Sunday 1 November 2020

Colourful October Disappears In Halloween Storm


The thundering and booming of the wind woke me in the early hours of the last day of October, a wind that rattled across the roof and surged through the trees. Twice more I was woken in the dark before I finally rose. The wind continued all day, roaring and gusting, tearing the leaves from the trees and sending them swirling in the air to settle far away. I went out once, to cut kindling for the fire, and found it a struggle to reach the wood shed, the wind knocking the breath out of me. 

Until this last day October had been calmer than in many years down here in the strath, and also wetter. Rain has fallen almost every day and the ground in the fields and woods is saturated. Any snatch of sunshine has been welcome. Skies have been leaden, dull, dark.

But October is also the colourful month and this year has seemed brighter and more intense than any I can remember. Birches, aspens, cherries have all glowed almost neon-like, with oaks, beeches and larches not far behind. Only the rowans have failed to join the splendour, fading from green to brown and bronze. The row of sycamores next to our house have been bright gold. Many years the leaves quickly turn to a dull black-spotted brown. 

The lack of wind has helped the trees hang on to the leaves through the month, maintaining the colours. Some years it doesn't last long. Now this Halloween storm is shredding the trees, the leaves turning the ground bright. Soon the trees will be in winter form, ready for months of cold and darkness. Colour will be leached from the landscape, just the dark green of the pines remaining.

The dark months begin. Brightness will come from frost and snow. The land will have a different beauty. But there will be some remaining autumn colours for a few days, maybe weeks, often hidden deep in the woods, out of reach of the wind. I'll be going to seek it out. 

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