A brief interlude in the rain brought frost this morning, but already the grey clouds have shouldered out the sun. The wind bites. As I walk to the wood, I snuggle inside fleeces, wrap my scarf tighter, wiggle my fingers up my gloves into the palm of my hand. The calls of pink-footed geese overhead draw my eye. Their v-shaped trails sweep the steel skies, moving forward, a constant, unstoppable front of motion.
Once inside the trees, trunks gather round and protect me from the wind’s gusts, but the cold does not relent. Most of the branches have lost their leaves now; any foliage remaining is low down within the shelter of the wood. Bare boughs stretch to the slate clouds, bending to the bluster of the wind. Eddies swirl lower, rattling skeletal twigs. There is the smell of cold damp, the sound of crows raucous chanting. The woodland floor is wet; brown leaf, green moss, stems of coarse, dead grass, but as I walk, gold flashes in the distance. Drawing closer, I see it is bright yellow leaves that radiate this warmth through the dim light. A once mighty small-leaved lime has fallen. Now growing horizontally, it has not yet relinquished its leaves and they shine, a pure delicate primrose.
A rushing whisper begins above my head; the wind is coming. Outside the wood, I could feel the wind, but inside the wood, the wind becomes corporeal, it’s outline cast by the movement of the trees. The motion of the branches in the distance becomes more frenzied, the noise louder. Above me, the blustering gusts blow stronger, swirls of cold draught down to my upturned face, gentle at first then fast currents, blasts of fresh cold. Suddenly I am engulfed in a wave of fluttering lime leaves, a barrage of tumbling gold. The wind builds to a crescendo overhead, a waterfall of sound, rising and falling as the cascading leaves twist and spin around me. Standing in this gale of falling leaves is exhilarating. I am surprised at how friendly the rushing clamour above me sounds – it is filled with excitement, anticipation. Then gradually the wind eases, the torrent of leaves slows, the last few drop to the ground. Branches are moving in the distance, but above the boughs are still, noise drops back to a whisper.
As I leave the wood, the rain begins again. Autumn colours drain from the landscape, washed away in icy rivulets. Winter edges closer.