It is a very still day with only a slight drizzle – a soft day as they say. The land is muted and misty in greys and greens with wisps of mist over the lough and the hills beyond. Beyond, being across the border. In this small place of Northern Ireland the border fades in and out, no straight lines and I see no difference in the season of autumn a couple of miles away over the border and here. The natural world doesn’t recognise man made distinctions.
Hallowe’en. Samhain. A time of new beginnings. The turnip lantern is made and ready to be lit. As a child I remember the scooping out of the turnip took ages and resulted in bent spoons and sore hands but the lighting of the lantern in the dark with its toothy grin and ghoulish look was always worth it.
It is also a time of contradictions. It is Autumn. Sycamore and ash leaves are now floating down like a strange snow, creating a deep yellow ochre carpet underfoot while the hawthorn, the ivy and holly are still green. The colour combinations in nature are curious – not the colours that would necessarily be put together by humans and for some reason I can only envisage painting Autumn in water colour, not oil or acrylic. The colours run into each other, darken then fade and change.
The rosehips are now glorious in their deep red coats and seem to point towards the holly berries now beginning to be seen in the higher branches of the trees. Once you see one you see the other. The darker days and nights of Winter are on their way but the pale pink of the Herb Robert is still everywhere. These tiny delicate flowers are still blooming at the end of October, protected by the moss and the grasses in the hedgerow. A few white field roses are also in another round of flowering.
The yellow umbels of the ivy flowers full of pollen and nectar, act a little as their description suggests, like umbrellas – but umbrellas with only the spokes showing. A last cluster of elderberries, found on the lane. has been added to my Autumn wreath on the door. Their colour dense and somehow magical and now I’m ready for Samhain.