Farewell to Autumn

The temperature has dropped with November,  and it is winter air that I step out into in the chilliness of the morning.

A flock of birds, their white under-wings catching the light, cross the expanse of the sky above me. A sky of piercing frosty blue, clear as a cold blade, tempered by the licking flames of the beech branches. Above the glorious radiance of that blaze, life-filled and warm against the coolness of the blue, the ghost of half-moon glides like a tattered piece of delicate tissue paper carried high by the autumn breeze.

The faint silveriness of frost pales the lawn, melting in the long streaks of morning sunshine. A grey squirrel hurries here and there in the leaves, and up above, a little movement that might have been made by falling leaves show themselves, to a close observer, to be made by little tits, darting here and there in the frosty air, in between the golden foliage.

Closer to me, the autumn crocuses are flattened against the grass on which the frost has already melted into clear sparkling droplets, and to my left, the red berries are bright on the yet green foliage of yew and holly (our holly trees always have ripe berries early).All the leaves are gone from the little cherry, except for one or two of speckled yellow, that even now spiral down. In the flowerbeds the flowers and their green leaves have fallen back, leaving only their seed-heads, which stand erect and delicate. And the foliage that remains, the tall purple loosestrife and the ferny leaves of the incense rose on their rich brown stalks, is dappled red and yellow like the trees. In the big bushes of garden cranesbill, a deep blue bloom can yet be sometimes found, hiding under the withering leaves, with a spider’s web suspended from its stalk. Those flowers are some of the last to survive. But over the dried desolation spreads a new growths – some starry flowers, some like red flames and others with pale pink blooms, remembering their native home where it is always summer, spring up in bright clouds of colour.

‘Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-‘





Seal Beach

This adventure happened on a beach in Norfolk called Horsey Gap. We had hired a boat called the ‘Brink of Joy’, and sailed all about the Norfolk broads for a few days. Near the end of the trip we came on shore to spend a day at Horsey Gap. We had heard rumours that it was a good place for seals. As seals are not a rare animal we were not particularly excited; however when we reached the beach the site was amazing.

It was an ordinary beach –  very like Newborough the beach by the house we used to live in on Anglesey – surrounded by high dunes grown over with maram grass, with  gentle sloping sands and wide expanse of silver blue ocean and white capped waves. But along the beach, stretching as far as the eye could see – we thought at first they must be rocks – was a long line of seals. There must have been over a thousand of them; some were fighting, some mating; there were even seal cubs, slithering along the sand. It was like being inside a nature documentary. I have said seals were common; so many seal were not common at all. A lady photographing them stood on the bank. As she stood, a little seal cub slithered right up to the lady, and to me, who was standing by her. It was brown and grey speckled, and rather fat, with shiny black eyes. We had some work getting it back to the others. The only downside was the seal poo, which there was some quantity of. We spent hours watching the seals, and came home to the ‘Brink of Joy’ talking of nothing else.