• Turning Trees

I’m never quite sure what to make of autumn.  Part of my spirit sinks, but another part is captivated by its combination of desolation and beauty.  This afternoon, I went for a walk in the wood, brushing against bracken that is now a dirty brown.  It’s a plant which my neighbours sometimes cut back during the summer or spray to kill it off.  I don’t like it much either, but even in its current state – flattened by the wind, broken-backed, fawning over the paths – it has its own qualities.  In sunlight, after rain, it can glow like amber.  Not today though.

Here are a few photos.  First – the chestnuts have lost most of their foliage, leaving a mix of green and orange to dapple the skyline.

On one edge of the wood there’s this multi-stemmed sallow, its feet planted firmly in a pond that disappears from time to time.  The rocks around are always covered in moss.  Mysterious…

The ash trees are the last to leaf in the late Spring, and the last to turn in the autumn.  Not yet, though.

The paths are unkempt.  The wind-driven yet stalwart hawthorn on the right has lost its leaves, its few remaining berries an important food source for the birds.  It is clothed in a variety of lichens, testament to the clear air.

Here’s more or less the same shot (but zoomed), taken at the end of May.

But close up, there is still colour now.  This dogwood clump is a riot of white berries with leaves which range from vivid green to a deep burgundy.  This year, four years after it was planted, I must cut it down almost to ground level so that when it regrows next year its stems will shine an even brighter red.

There are a few ornamental crab apples, but the crop of fruit here as elsewhere has been very poor.  The birds will need extra help this winter.

And, finally, this beech tree still glows, even against the grey sky.  All is not yet lost.  I can return indoors with my spirit refreshed.


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