September and October came and went in the hustle and bustle of daily routines. Before I knew it, it was November, one of my favourite months in nature’s calendar. This year, I was going to miss two weeks of it as work took me away. Of course I love my adventures but I love coming home more, especially arriving just in time to catch the last magical hues of autumn and to pay tribute to the glory of November’s colours.
My love of November began when walking to school and back with my grandmother. I didn’t like school one bit, but I did like walking with my Nan. Sometimes we would take a diversion to Devil’s Dyke; a defensive ditch 30 metres wide and 12 metres deep at the edge of the village. It is thought to have circled an ancient settlement of the Catuvellauni tribe of Ancient Britain. In the height of summer with trees full of leaves, it was a dark and foreboding place. My eight-year-old mind was awash with childish imaginings: of ghosts, tribesmen and roman soldiers. This was where Julius Caesar defeated Cassivellaunus and I felt sure that their spirits were still embedded in the trees. But in the autumn light, the dyke was transformed, the darkness gone and turned instead into a yellow and orange magic, a magic made by nature’s elves and leaf fairies who only come out in November.
Walking with my grandmother, I felt free and safe, kicking up the leaves, savouring the distinctive rustling noise as my toes flicked them up in the air for them to tumble back down around me. We would collect the best ones to take home to make a collage; a celebration of nature’s art and in honour of our beautiful British trees: oak, beech, birch, hazel, hawthorn and field maple.
Today as I recall those childhood memories I am walking in the woodlands at Ashmore high up in the Dorset countryside. I breathe in the clean, cool, crisp air. Lungfuls of it. The sun’s rays paint orange and russet clouds of colour. A lone buzzard cries overhead and two red kites looking for bounty glide past me over the bright resplendent green fields. The woodland itself is still and quiet apart from the chattering nuthatches in the tall oak tree. Calm, peaceful and waiting. Waiting for the rain which beckons on the horizon.
Although the trees are soon to be laid bare, a closer inspection reveals the tiny buds that will make our next Spring. I thought of the winter before me, of the log fires, the family gatherings and the winter storms. Spring seems far away………