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The luxuriance of early autumn: Country diary 100 years ago  

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 4 September 1915

The luxuriance of early autumn is seen in the open wood not less than in the orchard. Leaves of the horse chestnut and the sycamore litter the ground, but the beech and the oak are beautifully green. There is a great show of acorns this year; they will be very useful for the cottagers and young porkers. Most of the gleanings, or leasings, as some country folk call them, will probably be used for mixing with the strong bitter fruit of the oak. Of old they used, after gathering the corn, a long and slow process, to take aprons full across to a watermill worked by a stream - where the fishing is as good as ever; but the mill has gone, steam and steel have captured all: the millstone stands upright against a worn beam of the wall, and the water-rat comes up to stroke his whiskers on its edges. Bread from leased corn always had a fuller, sweeter flavour than you get now from the finely dressed flour. Only “pollard” for the June calf and “sharps” for the trough were taken out of the ground corn, then, worked up with barm, baked and kept on a dairy shelf, it cut as ripe and sweet as a russet apple. Now we rub or beat the grain out for the fowls, and they enjoy it finely until the more masterful ducks come up and simply hustle them about the yard. Geese and ducks have no respect for the proper amenities of farmyard life.

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