Autumn – raking leaves and a bit of navel-gazing!

Never mind the  Pin Oak leaves  swirling in a sudden backyard leafstorm –  those russet layers of  red and  gold are the stuff  of  deferred gratification: raking them in the  backyard,  in  the pale autumn sunlight.    And forget  pulling out the spent summer crops, trimming trees and  the other gardening  chores.

Most  can be ticked off as done and dusted but the one I’ve put off  longer than usual because it’s been such a gloriously golden farewell to summer, is cutting back  our grapevine.

Not that it’s been hugely productive – a few bunches of grapes when it feels like it –  a performance  which once  led an  elderly Croatian to say that grapevines had to be made to struggle.

“So cut it back hard and just leave it” he  advised.   Well yes that  worked, briefly.  Then the  gluttons of  blackbirds and thrushes made short  work of what fruit it did offer. Besides, we didn’t grow it for grapes.  We wanted to give our  bald garage  entrance  some eyebrows, so to speak.

We followed the old Croatian’s  ideas,  never bothered about the fruit  but were routinely thrilled when much  later we saw its first buds signalling that Spring  rebirth was not too far away.

Our  vine was nothing  more  than  an aesthetic tonic of sorts. But seasons change and finally,  reluctantly we took to it with  the secateurs  – the gardener’s executioners. Down came this year’s vintage crop of… leaves.

If we felt a  surge of  joy when those first buds appeared in earlier seasons, then  we grieved when  we cut the  vine back hard.

It signalled the end of  our long summer where we could sit in its  warmth,  shaded partly by vine leaves and just occasionally, thoughts of  our own seasons….

Share this:
Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.