Time to dig out my gloves. The clear air this morning was bright, bracing and left my fingertips numb. I was out earlier than usual with Nelly as it was impossible to stay indoors when the sunrise promised to be spectacular; just a wash of vanilla and violet as I pulled my boots on, so I expected it to be chill.
But something subtle has shifted: the green of the world around me is now balanced against the brown; the hours of my day spent equally in dark and light, and now the cold has started to swirl between the shafts of sunlight. A few weeks ago the first touch of the rising sun against my face held a palpable warmth. Soft and fierce, generative and, in view of our moody English summers, miraculous. It was Sol Invictus. That has changed; we are now in the realm of the Winter King.
The trees understand this clearly. They were noisy this morning, talking about the lowering light and the wet sound of fields littered with sheep being flushed on the last spurt of green grass, each ‘hard, marbly baa’ being readied for the tup; spring embryonic in the promise of new lambs.
Those trees will be talkative for a few weeks yet before slowing down to sleep. But at the moment theirs is a song of falling leaves and the first storms of the seasons, and all of them far too caught up in their new colours to notice a woman without gloves and a smiling dog amongst the turned earth and leafmould.
“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.”