My cat Marley is feeling much better after his nasty accident where he managed to cut his achilles tendon very badly. He's not allowed outside yet but hopefully in a couple of weeks he'll be back in the undergrowth as in the picture above. You can just see him to the left of the photo about to stalk through the long grass doing his impression of a tiger. Like Marianne, my sensibilities prefer a wild garden, and I hate to cut the daisies until I have to - that's my excuse for not cutting the grass and I'm sticking to it!
I love summer, but now the days are growing shorter and autumn is here. We've had some beautiful, bright and sunny days but the evenings are drawing in and I've even lit a fire once or twice. Still, there is something lovely about sitting in a cosy room by the fire - an excuse to re-read Jane Austen!
I think Jane Austen must have been fond of this season - the action often starts at this time of year. In Sense and Sensibility, Marianne Dashwood meets John Willoughby in the autumn before Michaelmas. I wanted to set Willoughby's Return within a similar time frame - I imagined Marianne captivated by the romance of an autumnal landscape: -
Marianne Brandon was bursting with news to tell her sister and was so excited at the report that her husband had divulged at breakfast before leaving for Lyme that morning, that she did not consider there to be time enough to don her bonnet. With her chestnut curls escaping from her coiffure to dance in the wind and her scarlet cloak billowing like a great sail behind her, she almost ran down the lane to the parsonage. Knowing that Elinor would probably scold her for not bringing the chaise, she nevertheless had not wanted to be bothered with the inconvenience of having to wait for it. Muddying her boots and the hem of her gown, she took the shortcut across the fields to the lane that separated the two sisters. Yesterday’s storm had left the ground wet but there was the promise of a most delightful day, the autumnal sunshine kissing her cheeks with a blush.
Marianne had not wanted to say goodbye to her husband but was resigned to his departure. There was nothing she could say or do to change the situation; she knew that from experience. Glad to be outside in the fresh air, she looked about with contented pleasure, waltzing through the familiar countryside that she was delighted to call her home. Delaford House in the county of dorset was as dear to her as the former family seat at Norland had been. Marianne knew in her heart that she was a most fortunate young woman.
As she walks home after calling on Elinor the season brings forth memories from the past.
She walked along in the sunshine, every scent and sound recalling earlier times, bringing forth the inevitable bitter sweetness of memories. Bending to pick a bunch of blue buttons, the last of the wildflowers from the meadow, she was instantly reminded of a posy once given to her in that first season of happiness, now dry and faded. Held together by a strip of frayed silk ribbon, staining the pages of a favourite poetry book, they belonged to the past.
“John Willoughby,” she said out loud.