There’s an incredible stillness outside today. Sitting on my favourite bench, looking across the garden, there’s not a whisper of movement. I'm studying an etching, in which even the quivering willow has been abridged to a sketch of finely inked outlines. Splashes of colour hang suspended against a blue sky; autumn has hoisted her bunting aloft.
A bee startles me, his industry almost incongruous in this serenity. He dodges from one flower to the next, enjoying the memory of summer; a souvenir sunflower, big and bold, dahlias and chrysanthemums, clinging to the sun's warmth, rich reds fading to russet, purple bleached to pink, a thousand pointed petals.
If a bee can interrupt my reverie, even more so the chickens, who have sought me out. Sylvie, so named after a ballerina, looks more like a pantomime dame as she launches into the air to peck at dried poppy heads. The clumsy thud of her landing is applauded by the rattle of tiny castanets as the seeds shake from their pods.
With overnight frost forecast there's a guillotine hanging over the dahlias so I'm off to quick step round the garden myself to gather a final few blooms.