Sometimes it’s necessary to make a diversion from customary walks. The little adventure along an alternative trail satisfies this need, until I face a tangled wall of ivy and jute like stems. The track tunnels under the leafy obstruction and journeys onwards through the undergrowth. Admittance only (it seems) for the small and four footed.
Some days it looks and feels like autumn. On others, north easterlies whistle winter through exposed ears and gaps in windows. In August you can sometimes smell the autumn and in December find confused blossom. And January’s brightening sends out subtle hints of spring.
Plenty of leaves (from sweet chestnut, beech and oak trees) stay hanging on and even yet are not totally yellowed. And the sun -coloured buddleia still attracts a large and striped acolyte or two.
There’s something soothing about a windless winter’s night. Calmly quiet, save for my feet swishing through dry fallen leaves, and the occasional breathy hoot of an owl. Now and then the light from my torch captures the dogs’ glowing eyes or the silent meanderings of a wandering moth.
The crumpled cider can and spent cigarette packet tell their own tale. But nearby, in the same patch of grass, lie a sweet corn husk, half a walnut shell and, surprisingly, an old limpet shell. The last three brought (as the crow flies) from farmers’ fields and rocky, low tide shorelines. I’d love to find the whereabouts of that walnut tree.
I know the evening star, seen her countless times, but never noticed, before the other night, her size and diamond- like brightness verged almost on the biblical. But then I pointed her out admiringly to someone else, and they said perfunctorily, ‘It’s a Chinese lantern, not a star.’ They must have looked and never seen her before either.
I’m trying to learn to love the icy woodland wind on my face, despite rigid feet and far from warmed up hands. But since it carries along with it the sweet, warm scent of pine smoke, the unfriendly draught soon becomes easier to embrace.
The silver birch manages to be stylish all year round. This AW13, he beguiles in this season’s colours of burnished gold and russet. Whatever the weather throws (be it rain, sunshine or snow) his silvery bark succeeds in being right on trend.
There are still some flowers around to soften the blow of shorter days. Red admirals choose from buddleia, fuchsia and even jasmine flowers. Here and there, the fields are dotted with purple thistles, delicate bramble flowers and sunny, coconut scented gorse flowers.
Two rooks sit companionably on the telegraph wires, pondering the leafless poplar trees silhouetted against the sunset. Unwilling to bid the day farewell, they stay until the dark almost envelops them, until another pair( flying roostwards) summon them peremptorily from their reverie.