Monday, 10 November 2014

The heart of Autumn....

Hello.... it's been awhile.

I've been contemplating, as the year moves ever closer to its end, on what a thoroughly pleasant one it has been. Take away the biblical floods at the start and I think we've enjoyed favourable conditions; rather more than we do normally. The fact that I was recently stung by a wasp (second time this year) probably tells us more about the weather in the UK this autumn. It is mild, following the conditions that have prevailed pretty much the whole year through - higher than average temperatures so that summer and autumn have fused, imperceptibly, into each other. A humid September and the mild wonder of a too-soft October has left my log pile intact and the central heating switch unmoved since February. Autumn is slow to arrive this year, and being behind schedule it is likely we can expect a lengthy stay - quite possibly into December.

Out on the bike last week I looked at the trees - some look to be summered with leaf while others are stripped bare, some have turned colours and others have held fast. It is a difficult year to make the mark between seasons. So far there has been just one frost sufficient to demand determined effort with the windscreen scraper - and that's another sign that we're more or less wallowing at the moment.

My two main bikes are in need of some TLC and I am currently therefore riding my old mountain bike. It's steel and heavy but surprisingly comfortable and given that I'm not bothered about speed right now, it makes for an enjoyable steed. I made my way, gently, through the lanes gazing up at the quiet sky. It is grey, smeared and smudged like a child's finger painting, with dark, feather-edged veins of inky violet adding a dramatic focus. The distant trees have the look of copper with flecks of orange and sometimes crimson. As the year distills itself towards its close there is a manifesting softness to the land and all that lies in or on it. I hear the piercing sound of a hunting horn and the howl of dogs as I move slowly but steadily uphill. I pause on a bridge to look along the canal lying underneath. There is a hazy mist hanging over the water and as I watch a couple of coots darting too and fro a narrowboat edges into the distant scene, cutting slowly through the moist air and seemingly floating on a cloud. The pilot is a lady who spots me as she passes under the bridge and shouts up a greeting. There is a canal-side cafe 50 yards away and i imagine she will be mooring up for breakfast.

I continue my route as the sun manages to pierce the greyness with spears of white. Immediately I can feel the warmth and my legs seem revitalised so that the hill up to Daddlington is conquered in a flash. As I enjoy the freewheel on the other side I spot a couple foraging on the roadside, gathering up some fruit of the earth that remains unknown to me, sloes perhaps? or mushrooms? I pass through Stoke Golding and wind my way to Shenton and from there back to Market Bosworth. It occurs to me that we talk of the 'height' of summer or the 'dead' of winter - but what of autumn? The 'heart' perhaps - the core of fruitfulness and decline that has within it the sweet dregs of the year.