As I get more mobile the garden beckons, clearing out dying plants - well this year's debris, blowing leaves into heaps, trimming, cutting back, aching etc.
This grey cold morning I am nursing my cup of tea as my mother used to do, hands wrapped around the mug, (she had cold hands and used to creep up behind me and stick them down the back of my collar), when a small bird flies into the window with a thud. What had disturbed it? I stand and look out to find three hen pheasants below me looking up. They are this year's brood and skittish, hurry off into the undergrowth. The small bird that hit the window is unhurt and long gone.
I have been in the garden cutting back the asparagus stems, tidying away the dying peony fronds, Michaelmas daisies and other vegetation. Most off the trees are leafless and the cherries and cercidiphyllums are now turning. A tall teasel shoves its way up through the cherry.
Other trees are casting off this years photosynthetic factories and the grass and paths are carpets of brittle colour. Even the leaves of the strawberries are turning.
Down by the pond the holly is loaded with berries so it is clear that this is a female tree. The winter birds will be glad of the supply.
Other trees and shrubs hold on to their green leaves - the magnolia stellata, deutzia and lilac, the buddleias and winter honeysuckle. The beech hedge though is finally giving in to winter.
All this seems much later than I remember as a boy as the seasons change.
We have Brussels sprouts but the squash and courgette plants have been consigned to the compost heap.
Elsewhere there are lingering flowers - roses still scented,
Self sown sunflowers from the bird feeders,
a few persistent Japanese anemones
and the final lavender heads.
The lavender is now trimmed - not cutting back into the old wood as that would result in die back or even death of the plant.
The last pear is on the tree and out of reach. It will fall and feed the rabbits.
When I look on facebook or the like and see old friends and cousins in New Zealand welcoming Spring, and then look out at the approaching darkness (it is only 3 pm!), put on another fleece and argue with R about having the heating on, I watch a large flock of fieldfares, winter visitors, fly over and dream of spring and its promise. Meanwhile we just have to get on with elections and Christmas and New Year and so on and so on.