A Kinrowan Estate story: Fall (A Letter to Tessa)

A letter from the journal of Alexandra Margaret Quinn, Head Gardener here in the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, to her friend who was in Constantinople as of this letter. Alex, as she was known, copied her personal correspondence into her Journal. She noted in her will that her letters were to be part of the Estate Library upon her death. Isabella would live to well over a hundred, even longer than Her Queen would!

Dear Tessa,

Though it’s hot and dusty where you are, Fall arrived here this week. Though it’s warm by mid morning, we’re now in the high thirties overnight and the days are now substantially shorter. No frost yet, but I won’t be surprised to see it early this year, as the past fortnight has seen clear nights with very low dew points and not a breath of wind.

I’ve had my staff doing last preps on the firewood with the best (oak, ash, spruce, and maple) being reserved for the Kitchen and the Library, as I swear no one else really appreciates how good it is. Head Cook put in a claim on whatever applewood is to be had, for he loves the smell. We also cleaned up the spruces of dead branches and old cones this week so they’ll be used to start fires as they’re high in pitch.

The orange tabby you named Gefjen has lived up to her name as she’s most definitely pregnant! Right now, she’s hiding in the rooms of Isabella, the new Librarian, when she’s not looking for warmed milk and bits of meat from the Kitchen Staff. Oh, I do wonder what the kittens will look like!

You sadly missed the dance we had in the Courtyard under the Oaks that are now changing their colours, which is early for them, suggesting another harsh Winter is coming. We had a guest caller up from London who introduced the Neverending Session to a tune book he had with him called Thomas Skillern’s Twenty Four Country Dances for the year 1780 which has many a lovely dance tune in it. The dance lasted ’till well after midnight and even the Kitchen staff slept in, so we all had a very late breakfast.

The blackberries we planted several years back are now in full force though I admit I hate them, for trimming their canes in a month will be a beastly exercise! Oh, but warm blackberry tarts with vanilla ice cream on top are oh so wonderful. There’s also a promise of blackberry wine as well.

One of the Several Annies, Ingrid, had a handfasting with one of my lads, Angus, this week. You’ll remember her as you taught her how to press summer flowers properly. The Steward granted them use of a crofter cottage provided they fix it up. Angus is keen to restore the Mill Pond dam so we can use it as a proper skating pond and a place for curling games. We now use the field that floods every Winter and freezes hard for those games.

I must be off now as there’s a butchering going on of the pigs as it’s time for smoking hams and such so I need to select the pigs to be killed.

Affectionally yours,


About Diverse Voices

Diverse Voices is our catch-all for writers and other staffers who did but a few reviews or other writings for us. They are credited at the beginning of the actual writing if we know who they are which we don’t always.

It also includes material by writers that first appeared in the Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter for staff and readers here. Some material is drawn from Folk Tales, Mostly Folk and Roots & Branches, three other publications we’ve donedone the centuries.

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