Autumn Trees

It’s very wet and grey outside at the moment, a typical rainy autumn day. I was going to start putting some of the more delicate plants into my mini greenhouse today, to protect them from the inevitable approach of colder weather, but I think I’ll wait for a brighter, drier day! So instead, I’m sitting snug and warm on my bed, and glancing out of the window as I decide what to write.
I live in a tree preservation area, and next door there is a huge old oak tree, one of the few remaining trees from the ancient Sussex oak forests, and despite being well into autumn, it is still well endowed with leaves. I love trees; there is a stability and permanence about them, and this one is particularly gnarled and beautiful. I love hearing the wind in the trees, watching the seasonal changes, and seeing the wildlife within the branches. This next door oak tree is so big that I reckon it would take 3 or 4 men, or maybe more, with arms outstretched, to reach all the way around its trunk! The mustard coloured leaves on the hornbeam trees in my garden are thinning rapidly, and the horse-chestnut tree beyond is already bare, but although the oak leaves are beginning to turn yellow, it is always one of the last trees to lose all its leaves in autumn.
When I look closely at the old oak tree, I can see a myriad of tiny blue-tits darting in and out, protected from the rain under the thick canopy of leaves, pecking at the insects. Every so often I see blackbirds, and ah, there’s a magpie swooping down with its tail fanning out as it lands on an open branch. Earlier, during a break in the rain, there was a squirrel, foraging for acorns, and then swinging across from the oak tree to my hornbeam.
Now there is no wind, and the leaves move only with the falling rain. It’s just lunchtime, but already the sky is as grey as though dusk were falling. The all-pervading sound is of rain cascading from the gutter onto the lower roof, and I have a profound feeling of gratefulness for the protection of strong walls and a warm, dry house.

oak 004


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