I know some unfortunate people who lament the first signs of autumn, seeing only death and decay in the turning of leaves from green into gold.
But not me. I positively embrace the falling of crispy orange leaves as they unlatch themselves from the branches of beech, sycamore, lime, oak, hawthorn, ash, and rowan trees. Far from thinking of them as spent and lifeless, to me these colourful discards are full of bounce, vitality and promise.
Think of the underfoot crunch as you walk through a misty street or forest, and the woody smell they emanate in the damp. Think of their usefulness as mulch in the winter garden, giving shelter to all sorts of lively bugs and plant roots. Those that fall intact can be slipped between the pages of heavy books to re-emerge in spring, almost forgotten, as things of skeletal wonder. And before all this, their brief but spectacular show of reds, yellows and ochres before their sifting descent into earthy brownness. After months and months of unremitting green, this stimulating visual ballet convinces me that there is life after death after all.
But what about the bare trees that are left behind, moan the autumn naysayers, don't they look sad? Maybe. But not for long, if you see them as magnets for hungry winter birds and deck them with feeders stuffed with nuts. If you look closely enough you can see the marks where, before too long, buds will appear to announce the advent of spring.
Before you accuse me of being the irritating type of optimist who always sees the autumn leaf as half-green, there is one type I dislike. That would be the wet, slippery kind that, unseen in the teeming rain, caws the feet from under you and plops you, red-faced, in a puddle.
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