I forget how lovely October here is. In the UK, as I remember, it’s usually damp and misty and getting cooler if not cold. But then what I am also remembering is the early morning commutes and darkening journeys suddenly becoming night when the clocks go back. Or perhaps even further back to living in Wales, where the rain is a constant companion. What happens in my life is a bit less frenetic now. I am rising and walking Siena soon after dawn at this time of year. This, of course, brings cooler temperatures and some mist, but it’s the light that is perfect; the “golden hour” beloved of photographers and artists but usually too early (in summer) or too cold (in winter).

October also brings the ripening chestnuts. I avoid the main groves as I lack a hard hat, but I can hear the regular thud as the large “chataignes griffé” (grafted chestnuts) fall. Last year I saw my neighbour actually doing the grafting onto young chestnut sapling rootstock. My regular morning walk takes me up a track lined with wild chestnuts whose fruit is much smaller (and safer!). Siena carefully avoids walking on the track since the chestnut casings are painfully prickly.

Last week I was on this same walk and encountered two hunters whom I had seen several times before and so they recognised me. One asked if I had insurance against being shot. I was still processing this and so hadn’t time to register alarm before he said he was joking. I carried on as if I knew this, but it is a concern, especially after the hunters enjoy a long and perhaps, inebriating lunchtime!

Perhaps this October is especially good for me is that I lost so much of the summer avoiding anything that might hurt my shingles affected torso. It’s only sensitive now, uncomfortable to wear a shirt but otherwise not affecting me. Phew! And it does mean that I savour the morning walk just that little bit more.

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