I’d forgotten how much I love autumn. The SP and I took our walk along the river today as even I am not quite feckless enough to wander through the woods when bits of tree are whizzing past my nose. The wind was wild and crazy and the SP went crazy too, leaping like an impala over the long grass, spooking at things that weren’t there (or at least not visible to the eye) and leaping up at me as if to say, ‘Isn’t this the best fun in the entire world ever?’ I had to agree it wasn't half-bad and, with The Black-Eyed Peas blaring in my ears, we danced our way round the big field.
The hedgerows were stuffed with berries and hips – blackberries, rowanberries, hawthorn, rosehips, big fat sloes – and the scent of wild honeysuckle drifted on the breeze. And it all reminded me that the wondrous Kim Jewell had gone a bit nuclear on me the other day. See, many many years ago (so many years in fact that, as was kindly pointed out on Facebook, most of the original readers are probably dead!) I wrote a book called The Natural Year, all about living in tune with the seasons.
Anyhow. I'd been thinking for quite some time that I really ought to get my old books out there as e-books. But, to be honest, every time I started looking into how to do it, I felt a bit queasy. So, I was whinging in an unattractively pathetic way on Twitter about all the things that were stopping me self-publishing, like lack of a cover, not being able to format etc, and Kim said simply, ‘I’ll do it for you.’
And she did. Just like that. 24 hours later The Natural Year was up on Amazon and available for sale. I tell ya, that woman is scarily awesome. You wouldn’t want to meet her down a dark alley, that’s for sure.
Anyhow, here it is and here you go. It seems I have self-pubbed my first ebook (or rather, Kim has). You can find it here. if you're in the US and here if you're in the UK. If you're in Germany, you will have to find it for yourself as it seems a direct link is verboten. And if you're anywhere else you are entirely free to buy it from wheresoever you so desire. Kim interviewed me for her blog and you can read that here. Incidentally you can also find links there to her own wonderful YA titles (James is a huge fan of the Justice series).
Sooo. What did I say, way back then in the mists of time, about Autumm? Let's see....an abridged snippet (love the word snippet).
Autumn – Season of the Mind
"Autumn shouts ‘wake-up’ to the psyche - it's time to dust yourself off after the languor of summer and take life head on once again. In spring you started to ask yourself lots of questions about your life, your path and your desires. Now is the time to get them going, to take action, to shift your external world. Autumn is the season of the mind but it also concerns our relationship with the environment, with the world outside, the bigger picture.
Autumn is a perfect time to decide what you want to make of your life; what you want to achieve; where you want to be; how you want to work. It is the key time for deciding on your life path or making moves towards it. That may sound frightening, even off-putting, but it needn't be. Often we automatically find ourselves making changes, shifts, in the autumn. We may not be totally instinctual beings any more but deep within we are still moved by the rhythms of the year. Our hearts and souls still beat to the ancient drum. It is no real surprise that schools and colleges use the beginning of autumn as their starting point for the academic year. What better time to make a fresh intellectual start?
This is the perfect time to get your life in order. It's the time to start looking for answers to the questions you posed yourself back in spring. If you need to shake your life around a bit, this is the time to do it. Don't feel you have to change for the sake of it - it's more a case that if you have been looking for a change, this is a good time to think about putting things into motion. As always, if the time doesn't feel right, don't do anything. I'm certainly not suggesting that everyone should go out and get a new job or a new relationship or move house or emigrate on September 1st! Simply that if you feel there are changes in your life (however small) you might want to make, the energy at this time of year will help you make those changes. It's like a car being given a dose of high-octane fuel or a horse being given a feed of oats - you should be feeling frisky and full of energy."
Hellfire, did I really write that??? Shit. Think I need to read the book. :-)
Oh, and while I’m here, keep an eye on those rosehips…. A couple of recipes from later in the book...
Wild rose hips abound during the autumn and early days of winter - pick them (best after the second frost but before the birds get a chance to eat them all) and use them as a cold-banishing tonic, jam-packed with vitamin C. If you have an abundance of rose hips you could make rosehip syrup as did all wisewomen and good housekeepers of old. If not, try a simple tonic drink. The famous herbalist Culpeper said that rosehips are ‘grateful to the taste and a considerable restorative, fitly given to the consumptive person, the conserve being proper in all distempers of the breast and in coughs and tickling rheums. It has a binding effect and helps digestion.’ In all a wonderful free tonic.
Crush around 450g of rose hips and put them into a pan containing 900ml of boiling water. Bring them back to the boil and then turn off the heat and allow them to stand for around twenty minutes. Strain (preferably through muslin), and then put the fruit which will now be pappy and mashed, into around 300ml of fresh boiling water. Once again allow to stand for a further twenty minutes and then strain again.
Mix the two sets of strained juices together and return to the pan. Boil on a low but steady heat until the juice has reduced down to around 600ml. It will be syrupy by now. Allow to cool, sweeten to taste with wild honey and bottle in sterilized bottles as you would with any preserve.
ROSEHIP TONIC DRINK
Simply chop up two teaspoons of rose hips and add them to around 300ml of boiling water. Allow to steep for fifteen minutes and then strain and sweeten with honey to taste. You can make larger quantities and keep in the fridge for up to three days. It tastes lovely too.