I really do love the Autumn. It’s my favourite season and also the season of my birth which is maybe why I like it so much. It is the season of the wind and of mist and more than any the season of the dark birds, the ravens and crows and blackbirds, and of course the season of travelers. A solitary season, a time to be up and about at dawn and again at dusk just idling in the forest and bathing in the air hung heavy with the scent of leaf mould and damp wood. Though a season of obvious colour I like more to be deep in amongst the trees where the colours are dimmer and less regal. I like the evenings best, the light diminishing quickly but still almost imperceptibly as the mist rising slowly to waist height amongst the trees forms a comforting wall which shuts out the awareness of an unwelcome world. All is silence in an autumn forest save for the scuttling and rustling of tiny dusk-light creatures and the sad falling of acorns and leaves that every year lie motherless on the ground waiting to form the comfortable mattress which is the woodland floor. It is an eerie time of indistinct shapes and precise, sharp sounds when everything seems to encroach but nothing is ever seen. The dragging sounds of toads and salamanders as they wend their way through the leaves, the blackbirds, as they rustle about sounding for all the world like human footsteps which lend voice to the uneasy feeling of something there just out of sight. Though for me it is the loneliest of seasons it is still hard to feel alone in the woods in autumn.
The dusk is short and as it comes it brings with it a mysterious sense of purpose. No movement seems useless or futile. A time for stillness and reflection but also a time to be out and about and doing with knife and rope and wood and stone the simple things of life.
The keevit of an owl and a distant reply seems almost supernatural and leaves me feeling alien and superfluous. The calls of birds, geese maybe, almost unseen as they fly south in straggled arrows above the trees, drift down to where I sit, dark shapes calling strangely as they leave. A rare sound. It is sad to see them go for I too would like to be with them, flying through the chocolate and orange clouded skies, a freedom that no man has even known except perhaps in dreams. But then again, to stay is not so bad. The animals are left, and the owls and the robins and wrens, all calling as I write.
For me too it’s a time of lanterns. To walk through the misty woods guided only by lantern light is something ancestral and humbling, and to be in the center of a glowing orange pool slowly moving through a lonely blackened autumn world towards warmth and company is something I treasure each year.
Spring and summer are a riot of wild sounds and winter silent but the autumn is for me the perfect blend; the sounds are less numerous but more distinct. The birds and the animals that remain seem closer and the ticking of a wren or the coughing of a deer seem to come from just over there, just past that birch. And there, did you hear it? the owl again calling before he flies off between the branches in search of voles, a haunting sound which is maybe for me the sound which typifies the autumn feeling. It is a strange time. A time to turn inward and allow the fingers of the season to root themselves deep within you, to feel, out there just beyond the glow from the fire, the Others peering and curious.Maybe humanity was born of the autumn, the darkness drawing in and the need for company growing, and like me now, sat around the soft glow of embers and dancing flames with the smell of supple leather, chestnuts and roasted meat mixing with the evening damp, huddled from the chill in warm blankets a mug of mulled wine cupped between tingling fingers and the prospect of a good story told amongst friends before quietly laying down embraced by the melancholy dripping of the mist from the trees to sleep on deep mosses and leaves to dream happily of the morrow.
Oh yukky doo.