Every Leaf Tells A Story

Leaves fall in their thousands,
possibly their millions;
a landscape lit from below
like golden snow.

And as I stand and gaze, slowly
breathing golden air,
enter (stage left), a man
with dog.

‘Autumn leaves!’ he says
and ‘wonderful’ I reply,
watching the dog
nose down, pulling at the leash.

‘Ah, wonderful, except’ –
(and here he smiles)
‘he has to sniff
every
single
leaf‘.

It’s been a while since I posted here and it feels good to be back. I’ve been drawing and writing and posting on my other blog but I’ve slipped out of the habit of slowing down and being more reflective, so I hope to put this right.

It’s not that I haven’t been noticing things – but more perhaps that I haven’t been giving them enough space. And having a place to put thoughts like this is like having a quiet garden set aside, to sit in and not to think, and just to let things grow. It’s a good season for change.

Layers

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The weather has turned colder, and the leaves are falling faster now, on pavements and streets, on lawns and pathways. They pile up, leaf on leaf, layering into carpets and swept by the wind into piles that are sometimes mysteriously neat and oddly placed. My neighbour has a perfectly arranged doormat of brown and golden leaves positioned precisely outside her back gate, the edges as cleanly defined as if a sweeper had cleared the pavement and carefully neatened and flattened the pile.

In the garage a peacock butterfly is hibernating, wings tightly folded, clinging motionless to the ceiling. In the garden the snails that I watched all summer and into the autumn have finally disappeared, and the hedgehog who trundled past every evening on his nightly expedition, appearing at almost exactly the same time like a regular commuter on his way to work, has also turned in for the winter. I have left piles of leaves and sticks wherever I can for the many small creatures that I know will be taking shelter over the coming months, and now whenever I go outside I pile on layers of clothing, some days more, some days less.

In our different ways, we are all preparing for winter.

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A Calendar Of Leaves

We are at the end of summer now, poised right at the edge of autumn.

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The trees here are still green for the most part, but I know it won’t be long before the September sun will lose its warmth and all this sensuous clothing of greenery will be changing into autumn gold before being whipped off in the wind, or shed quietly, a few leaves at a time, everything gradually being stripped bare for the nakedness of winter. Until then, for a short while, everything hangs in the balance. I can feel the change coming, and I take ever more deep breaths of this season’s resonance and its glow. And I watch, and wait.

But of course there is change already; as each moment slips by nothing is quite the same, and it’s tempting to want to hang on to the warmth, the colour and the light for a while longer. As I stand under the beech trees now with the afternoon sun low in the sky and still warm on my back, I can hear a robin singing. I don’t want this season to end, but at the same time I know that trying to grasp and cling on to it will give me nothing but pain. What I really want is the freedom that comes from passing willingly from one moment to the next, from one season to another, being present in whatever comes.

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I look forward now to what comes. Not because it will be better, or different, but because I recognise now that what matters is just to be there and to be present, in each moment. And in the next moment, and the next, and the next.

Hedgerow Harvest

The hedgerows here are weighed down with a super abundance of blackberries.
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The strange thing is, I seem to be the only one picking them, and I’ve been gathering them by the small bucketful. Perhaps there are just so many that I don’t notice the signs that others have been harvesting here too.

I love picking blackberries, always have, and I could happily spend hours gathering them as I did the other afternoon, making my way slowly along a hedgerow in the golden september sun, stopping now and then to pick. I get scratched by thorns and stung by nettles, but there are always dock leaves somewhat nearby to rub on the stings.

I eat, too, as I go along, sometimes wondering if I really should, but unable to resist the pleasure of eating wild food straight off the bush which makes me even happier. And I’m all alone, except for a rabbit that plays hide-and-seek with me at the edge of a thicket of rhododendrons.

This season is full of sensations that bring back memories. The taste of blackberries, the smell of damp earth, the warmth of sunshine that we know will be warm for only a few more days.

I’ve picked blackberries since I was a child, and I can’t imagine this month without them.