The bright light of Autumn

The light is so bright coming down the lane that it blinds. The low sun forces itself through the trees where leaves are now falling so thick and fast that Rosie the dog is quite disconcerted by them.

Although not raining there is a moistness, a leaf litter scent, grass and leaf fall, and fungi making a natural compost. Dark browns and golds and also vibrant red and orange leaf stalks among the mossy ground with broken rose hips spewing out their seeds. 

There is a lot of ivy on the lane: over walls, up walls, around trees and hedging andI it is now in full flower with some flowers beginning the transformation into berries. The flowers are attracting a lot of interest from insects. I had never realised or perhaps had an interest in knowing, that the difference in the shape of ivy leaves related to their age. Now I can see it clearly. The mature ivy has oval or heart shaped leaves while the immature ivy has three lobed leaves. Both are a beautiful glossy green but only the mature plants will bear the flowers.

When the devil spits!

The sun has that bright harsh light that cuts across the lane and makes me shade my eyes when I meet it. The temperature is lowering and the leaves fall more readily from the trees in the swirling wind. One field in particular is coloured in the soft greens and browns of ferns, bracken and grasses. Although we’ve had some rain the ground is dry and the stone walls still don’t look as though they’ve recovered from the hot weather. The moss covering they normally have is falling back in places, stones have tumbled off  and on to the ground and holes have appeared. The small holes however I’m pretty sure are used by small creatures but the mossy shapes still look like faces to my way of thinking.

Elderberries still hang in clusters but are fewer now – and our elderberry wine is fermenting!

It is now Michaelmas and according to tradition blackberries shouldn’t be picked after this date as the Devil has spat on them. He is said to have landed on a blackberry bush as this was his revenge. They are certainly less juicy and attractive.

Some of the less well known trees are now in berry – the guilder rose behind the mill, close to the old water wheel and the spindle trees with their strange pink berries that will eventually show their orange fruit – poisonous. The snowberries or their other name, corpseberries are now full of their ghostly white berries and act as small lanterns lighting up the lane.

Leaning towards the light


Spider webs woven low across the grasses and plants in the early morning look like a smokey mist in the strangely warm, wet morning.  The rain drops are heavy. catching in the skeletal stems and seed heads while the leaves and petals shiver and shake as the drops land.

Sycamore leaves can now be seen covered in black spot. This is the month to notice it. This virus – tar spot – can cause premature leaf fall but not long term damage.  It has always reminded me of R.L Stevenson’s Treasure Island and the black spots which were handed out to pirates when a verdict of guilty was pronounced. Something slightly disconcerting about the spots.

Along the path the leaves of the hazel, the ferns, sycamore  and brambles are all turning towards the light, some parts of the lane are dark and it is as though they know the seasons are changing and they want to keep the light for as long as they can.

Blackberries are now full and just ready for picking. At home there is now a kilner jar of them mixed with sugar and vodka. By Christmas it will be a very pleasant liqueur!  Blackberry muffins have also become another way of using this wild bounty.

I’m working on two paintings at the moment – one, a landscape is full of blues and greens, wild clouds and wind. The second is a portrait of a garden, a walled garden – with animals! Both have some way to go and walking up the lane helps me to work out different ideas for the canvases.

Today on the way back home an unusual creature was lurking in the hedge. George, the cat had been spying on our walk!

walking the lane after rain

The heavy rain has made the mill stream begin to flow again, gurgling and gushing its way down the hill over the stone steps. There seem to be more and more hart’s tongue ferns in their livid green crowding the banks of the stream. The pigeons who come low over the water and the grasses are disturbed by Rosie, the dog and I as we walk up the hill. Their wings flap and make a cracking sound as they fly hurriedly through the low hanging branches into the wood.

The bramble stems now stretch out across from the hedgerow, reaching out their thorny arms to catch and hold anyone daring go past. Caught, I stop and look around while I disentangle myself. The boulder shaped stone which lies below the mill grain store looks like a fallen standing stone but I think it is just one of the boulders that were left behind thousands of years ago. It makes a good place to sit and look across towards the lough and the land beyond – a mysterious place.

Vetch seed pods now shine black and glossy in the hedgerow looking like highly polished nails while the haws are now turning to red amid the cerise of the willow herb. There will be more seed pods and fruit to look out for now.