This week I am aware of the drop in temperature here in Scotland, and all the indeluctable (is that a word? no; having looked it up I think I mean ineluctable) signs of the fading of summer into beyond-harvest: the squirreling away of resources towards winter.

I have already started to wear the “toastie” oversocks made for me by my friend M, in Caithness, and to light my wood-burning stove with pine, larch and fir cones gathered near the home of my friend A. I’ve made a tiny amount of rasperry jelly from the pippy wildling raspberries that edge our garden to the northwest, and have warmed the kitchen with the heat and fragrance of a slipper-loaf enriched with seeds that I bought early in Lockdown.

Today I’ve been harvesting nearly-the-last of the Braod Beans (Deliberate spelling mistake there becasue that’s how Broad Beans appeared in the list of things my father wasn’t allowed to eat, when he developed kidney disease in the 1970s. Other forbidden fruits were “cheeries”, and his much loved bananas, Poor Eric …).

As well as providing protein in my diet (and for Stephen, Grandad of Next Door, who makes soup of them with cumin, onion & potato) they improve the soil through the nitrogen-fixing activity of micro-organisms in their very visible root nodules, which either will get dug in to my sandy soil direct, or via the compost heaps (three, and counting…).

Such are the small and vital pleasures of September for me, and we still haven’t reached the Autumn Equinox.

Lichen graphics copyright Kathy Labrum McVittie August 2020

A week ago I ventured inland, to visit the croft where lives my friend “Roberta”, with her family of rescue horses, dog and pheasants, and from our garden seats we gazed out over the strath. We did a lot of voice-hugging and laughing, possibly even a bit of crying.

(It was drizzling, so I’m not sure what were raindrops and what were tears.)

Afterwards I drove home via Lairg, where I met a Norwegian Elk-hound called Trudi, who had strayed far from home and attached herself first to two couples from Tain, and then to me (we had a lovely cuddle before she was reunited with her owner, who had had the forethought to put a phone-number on Trudi’s collar).

Trudi’s tail can just be seen behind the yellow jacketed rescuer

I remembered yet again why I love living in this northern Highland community, where to say “hello” to someone is to know them, and often to love them. And where I find that any two friends new to me probably know each other already. As is true of Roberta and Andie.

Enough of going outwards, although I have much more to share on that theme. Now for turning inwards, which is often a theme for me – reflective, contemplative, introverted – in the autumnal approach to winter …

… and as a break with the BrainDump and Golden Threadwork structure, today I am offering you another “looser” expressive activity, of a type that I also recommended here, way back in March 2020 when I began this year-long commitment to write our way whole: at home.

‘Drawing close to the heart

is a tool that I summarise as:

Choose, use, stream, dream

First of all:

Choose four words/names for aspects of your life that are important to you

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Use a piece of blank paper, preferably A3

but it can be smaller. Have to hand a nice pencil, felt tip pens or sharp crayons, a pencil sharpener …

What shape do you feel drawn to today? Draw it, large, in the centre of the page. It needn’t be a hard line.

(Today personally I might draw the shape of an acorn: some readers will guess why.)


Inside it – without thinking, just writing – pour out from your present experience. Just enough – an aid to future memory, if you like. Be quick: keep the pencil going, no perfection! You can flow out of the shape, or not use it all.)


In each of the corners quickly draw or write something representing your four chosen themes. Again, what feels appropriate, just now? You can add extra words or symbols in these corners, and you can experiment with using a range of colours.

You get to choose.

Then date your page; sign it too if you wish

Display it, or store it in a special place to look at again soon.

And repeat the exercise as often as you like, over the coming weeks and months.

And here as another meditative path is a link to a friend’s website, to a post where Hope offers her reflections on contemplation and silence.

Whereas if it’s vigour and liveliness you need right now, what music would you put on for a jiggle around your sitting room? Maybe you could share a link to a suitably rousing track, in Comments.

Finally, I’m giving you a few of my own “gratefuls” here, while encouraging you to record your own below.

Your appreciations …

Today I am grateful for:




… and mine

Today I am grateful for:

~ insights from The Mystery School at The Way of the Buzzard about the special qualities of Seal – curiosity and playfulness – which I could do well to remember;

~ an opportunity to chat to two dogs from Yorkshire (and their owner) on the shore this morning, and to sit quietly with a wind-stranded puffin (alas, dead) below the dunes;

~ the friendship of people with whom I have been dancing online – one in Berlin, one in Oslo, one in South Africa – and whom I wouldn’t have met if not for this challenging pandemic;

~ apricot jam that I made from “expiry date bargains” earlier in the summer, and now delicious with yogurt.