When the leaves had started to fall and the days were shortening, my mother would take us out to the woods. We would gather twigs, and vibrant oak leaves, starry mosses, mushrooms, acorn pipes, and shiny chestnuts. We would lay them all gently in baskets we had brought, and when we had had enough we would go home.
There my mother would spread the garden table with newspapers, and she would allow us each to select a bowl from the cellar shelf. These we would fill with fresh smelling, moist earth from the garden. We would stamp it down with the palms of our hands and on top we would build our own autumn gardens. Where elves could live, and gnomes. And if we were in luck, spiders too.
When we had finished, the bowls would get pride of place in the windowsill and on the sideboard and on the coffee table. As I remember it, we all won prizes: most original, most beautiful, most varied.
But I don’t think any of us cared much for that. The bowl was the prize.