Another stunning autumn day here today, which as we got so little in the way of a summer is all the more special. Ady and I did some bramble picking this morning, in the sunshine, in short sleeves. I had such a good day picking yesterday with over 2kg picked and 15 jars of jam made that I stuck today’s pickings in the freezer to be dealt with later in the week.
We called in for a cup of tea with friends in the village and collected some game birds from our neighbouring island of Muck which they had taken off last night’s boat for us and kept in their fridge – a brace each of pheasant, duck and partridge. Game pie for dinner soon!
Then an impromptu decision over lunch to head over to Kilmory this afternoon and enjoy the sunshine, the drive across the island and some red deer rut action. Our fourth visit across to Kilmory during the rut and our best so far I think. In previous years we have heard plenty of roaring, seen lots of parallel walking and general ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’ type displays but little in the way of actual fighting. Today we saw not one, but two actual antler clashing fights.
As always the whole experience is made all the more interesting thanks to Kilmory Deer project researchers around to name the stags, give some background stories and explain just what is going on.
In the last fortnight we have twice said goodbye to people we probably won’t see again until next year.
The first was the skipper of the boat which takes us on our weekly summer cetacean watching trips. When we see him next spring it will be for the start of our fifth summer of dolphin spotting.
The second was my parents this afternoon. They have been here for a week, bridging the end of September and the start of October, here for the daily bramble picking and jam making that this time of year brings, here for the red deer roaring echoing off the hills, here for the start of amazing sunsets and starry, starry nights.
It’s nearly dark by 7pm, hard to believe back in July when at 11pm it is barely dusk, impossible to consider in December when the dark is chasing the daylight away by 330pm. It’s time to accept the crops that didn’t make it this summer now never will and remove the nets over the raised beds so the chickens can feast and weed. Time to gather seaweed to plan to mulch. Autumn is a time of action for us on the croft – processing pigs into pork, turning brambles into jam. A time of planning – reading and researching ideas for next year, working out the best times for volunteer weeks, planning trips off and visitors here. A time of crafting and making – turning the best photos of this year into postcards to sell next year, making candles and models, drawing postcards, knitting and crocheting, turning harvested midges into jewellery. A time of enjoying the next big wildlife treat – the red deer rut, watching the stags fight for their females, hearing them roar. A time for stopping and staring and noting the amazing light that the lower sun in the sky creates, the purple hues scattered across the island in flowers and fruits and berries.