Autumn and Keats. A Pictorial Conspiracy.

When I first studied Keats’ Ode to Autumn as a 17-year-old student, I was naive, optimistic and ignorant, full of expectation and youthful determination. The possibilities of life stretched out endlessly before me. I was in the Spring of my life: this metaphor, now considered clichéd, was not lost on me at the time, but then again, how could I have fully understood the real depth of this Keatsian analogy, not having travelled very far through the successive seasons of life. My literature teacher laid strong foundations for future and deeper understandings. Good literature requires frequent visitations.

‘To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core

Heirloom apple varieties, maturing at different times. Not so prolific but each one offering unique taste and texture. Not perfect, and never supermarket worthy. Some to stew: others to slice to go with a sharp cheddar or soft cheese.

I’m now in the Autumn of my life and am delighted to be here: I wouldn’t want to be 18, or 38 or 55 still. Those times were good: each season brought blessings and joys, angst and worry. Each season does. I just happen to love Autumn more and cling to whatever this season brings, knowing that my winter is not so far away.

‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun.’
Symbol of female sexuality. Ripe figs are autumn’s bounty. Spring and Summer played a part with rain then sun. Maturity comes in Autumn.

I visit the vegetable garden now and am rewarded with the products of our particular Summer: volatile and untrustworthy, youthful and full of energy, promises are made and broken. Patience is important when dealing with summer. Autumn is long and slow, with cool beginnings, windless warm days and soft pink, crimson, turning to tangerine sunsets. The ‘conspiracy’ is now over: we are loaded and blessed with fruits and vegetables and I’m not in a hurry to tamper with the season or hurry it along.

Chillies mature slowly, abundance comes in Autumn

Hiding along walkways, slow maturing pumpkins need another two lazy months before they surrender their sweetness and hard flesh for storing. Meanwhile, the zucchini are on display again, more loud and showy than the petite summer offerings: new flowers, bees and prolific fruits appear daily. Large seed filled zeppelins appear far too quickly now.

‘To swell the gourd’

Only in Autumn do the Pumpkins emerge. They don’t enjoy the harshness of young summer.

There could be a part two to my Keatsian story: to think that we have only just begun our gentle waltz through Autumn.

Just picked, a bowl of Zinfandel grapes ripen further then dry to sweet nuggets.

My previous Keatsian posts can be viewed here and the full verse can be found here.

Beguiled by Autumn’s Beauty

Summer is a harsh season in Melbourne and I am pleased when it’s finally over and the softly lit, warm and more mellow Keatsian season commences. This year there have been a few false starts, with cold snaps followed by intense heat waves. I recognise Autumn’s arrival when I begin to feel intensely melancholic and given to reflection. Still days, long shadows, and subdued bird call give rise to a gentler pace. Time to take stock, to shake off the overbearing intensity of summer’s hold, of its stifling grip on nature.

Garden crops mature more slowly, with tomato survivors providing a discreet bowl full each day, even if the ostentatious zucchini refuse to bow to the season. The beans continue their climb towards The Giant above, with a few ripening here and there, the coco rouge and the coco blanc. Late planted leeks now soften with the season: pumpkins peep from under sheltering leaves, as their vines drift through the garden beds, on a course of their own making.

A Shy Pumpkin

Only a few apples survive the blasting heat as hungry birds find their way through the nets.

Roma Beauty, a heritage apple

A dear friend arrives with a large bag of Beurre Bosc pears, which she carefully protected from the birds. I watch them slowly ripen and dream of French desserts, pears slowly cooked in wine and saffron, a pear clafouti or gallette. Beurre Bosc from Dianne

Oh for a perennial Autumn.

Celia’s Pancakes for a Miserable Day.

This summer was so cool that most of the tomatoes died off last week and the eggplants won’t have time to mature. Now Autumn feels like winter. Here we are midst the best month of the year and today the temperature plummeted to 12 c. What happened to my Keatsian season of mellow fruitfulness, close bosom friend of the maturing sun? Time to light a lovely wood fire and renew my acquaintance with baking, butter and wonderful winter treats.


Like many others around the world who received a gift of sourdough starter from Celia, of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, I have religiously fed mine, (who is also named Celia ) since last July and have often been forced to throw out the excess, especially during summer when bread making wasn’t on the agenda.

Today’s cold produced a spate of frenzy in the kitchen, with soup stock on the boil and a batch of sourdough pancakes for afternoon tea, using Celia’s recipe which can be found here.


After cooking, I simply piled them on a plate, dotted them randomly with dabs of butter and drizzled them with cherry jam. I made about 25 and there are only 2 left. Who needs dinner?

Daisy loves food, any food that is home made!
Daisy loves food, any food that is home made!

If you have an excess of sourdough starter, I highly recommend Celia’s recipe. Don’t waste that sourdough starter: pancakes (or pikelets ) never tasted so good.