Wednesday 14 October 2009

Autumn Days

Mid October and autumn is shining in all its glorious colours in Strathspey. Gone, for now, are the gales that swept through early in the month and the days are calm with mist drifting over the hills and filling the strath at dawn. The air is moist and hazy, the bright berries and golden leaves creating an impressionistic wash of colour across the landscape. The red berries of the rowans and wild roses still hang heavy on their branches and stems, the birches are in their full splendour. The larches and aspens are just beginning to turn with hints of yellow of gold amidst the fading green. At dawn heavy dew on the leaves makes them sparkle and glitter in the rising sun. The placid waiting scene calls to mind Keat’s Ode to Autumn and I read this favourite poem for the first time in many years. The first line sums up the feeling:

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”.

The birds, quiet and hidden as the summer ended, are appearing at the feeders again, flocks of coal, blue and great tits squabbling over the nuts and seeds. The first greenfinches for many weeks have been seen too, along with a lone blackbird. From high in the trees robins sign loudly, competing for their winter territories. The last bees feed on the last heather flowers – big bumblebees and small honey bees. The active buzz of spring is gone though and the insects are quiet. A peacock butterfly drifts over the scene, still mobile in the warm sun. Keats describes this too:

“And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease”

But soon enough the autumn will fade and winter will come in force. The sun may be warm but in the shade there’s a chill in the air and the nights threaten frost. To the south the distant mountains are dark, etched against the pale sky. The early snow has gone. Soon it will return.

Photo info: Rowan berries and birch leaves. Canon EOS 450D, Canon 18-55 IS @ 55mm, 1/125 @ f5.6, ISO 100, raw file converted to JPEG in Lightroom 2.4

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