It may be late August, but it is still the summer. However, where I live almost all the fields which surround us have already been harvested and ploughed - the greens and golds of the peas, parsley, barley, wheat and oilseed rape have all gone, only the deep shiny green leaves of the sugar beet remain. Ten or twenty years ago I remember the farmers leaving the fields for weeks, even months, after the harvest, and I can recall playing as a child in the stubble and pea mush well into the autumn months. Today it seems the farmers do not leave the fields for more than a few days before they start breaking up the earth and turning the soil.
We are now surrounded by varying shades of brown as the earth is turned to expose the dark moist clay soil underneath, before it dries to a different hue, and is turned again and again, each time the lumps of earth becoming smaller until the soil is ready for drilling and sowing for next year's crops.
This week I will harvest the onions in the garden and lay them out in the sun to dry. I will dig over the earth and sow rows of carrots for the winter. Soon the bright green shoots of the carrots' foliage will start peeking above the top layer of soil.
The brown of the fields surrounding us got me thinking today about brown ink in my pens. Brown is not really a colour people use to write - when they do actually write and not type, but that is another subject altogether - and I will admit that had it not been for my avid tea drinking habits, I would not have purchased a bottle of J. Herbin's Lie de The ink some months ago, and I certainly would not have thought about other brown inks. I do love Lie de The and have used it in two pens, and so far it has been my favourite ink in my silver-green Lamy Al Star.
I was undecided about the exact shade of brown I wanted to try next - Lie de The has beautiful shades of brown and yellow and green - and I was reluctant to buy random bottles of brown inks to find ones I liked, so instead I decided to buy a number of ink samples from the fabulous Goulet Pen Company in the US. I have now tried Noodler's Brown, Noodler's Golden Brown, and Noodler's Burma Road Brown, all of which I like, but I think I will definitely be buying a bottle of Noodler's Brown, which is a rich brown with a hint of red, and looks great in my Brown Esterbrook J. The ink and the pen suit each other perfectly, and the ink behaves extremely well on almost all the papers I have tried it on. I will certainly be trying some other browns - probably a few more from Noodler's and some from Diamine.