The jig of the leaves

The end of October is wind and half-light and a carnival of leaves.  The gale roars in and fallen leaves come to life once more.   They gambol over the grass, leaping and swirling like spring lambs.  When the wind gusts, they are swept into a rowdy gang, sprinting across the ground.  Lone leaves float against the sky, bobbing and flickering as they twirl.  Those caught up in the leaf-mass try to rise too but can’t.  Instead, scores of grounded leaves wave from their mulching places.  Meanwhile the trees that released them creak and rustle, undulating on the side-lines of the park, as though cheering on the final jig of their offspring.

There are fewer leaves on the ground this autumn.  October’s dry weather has left many crumbling to dust.  There have been few of the mists and storms I would associate with the season.  The colours have been muted and brittle.  If anything, it has been a grey month.  I have noticed the brutish beauty of sow thistle and the delicate star-burst seed-heads of groundsel.  Indigo mornings studded by Orion and Pegasus.  Garish orange dawns splodged with dark grey clouds.  A grey squirrel tries twice to scale the surrounding wall in the park and twice falls off, before shimmying up the poplar to the tallest branches to re-assert his street cred.  Starlings gather on the same TV aerial in town each morning and the wings of the seagulls are gilded by the sunrise.

This is the close down of the year.  The hatches are battened down, the unfinished chores are as complete as they will ever be.  The hearth is swept and a fire lit to welcome the ancestors.  Halloween itself is still.  The wind has vanished.  There is not a breath of it, not a sway of branch or a drop of leaf.  Fallen leaves are wet after a rare rainfall in the night, making them particularly vibrant.  Only the birds are restless, a flock of songbirds chittering at the tips of the poplars, crows swooping and barking.  I think about the ending cycle, the disrobing of the landscape, and all the industry that will carry on but won’t be seen, as leaves are broken down and nature renews herself.

Halloween night is fluid.  The year is neither old nor new, but in-between.  So the dead might visit and we can meet those who have not yet been born.  A feast is prepared with a place set for the ancestors.  The previous year is released in a flash of flame and a curl of candle smoke, the new year welcomed with the shuffle of Tarot cards.  I have entered the world of the dark, that delicious time of dreaming.  Easel and paints are calling me.  New stories call from the darkness.  My box of dreams is ready, waiting to receive the seeds of the things that are soon to be born.


121 thoughts on “The jig of the leaves

  1. I so enjoyed reading this intimate look at the changing season and the world you bring to life, Andrea. I love the look at the leaves, their movement in concert with the wind. Your connection with the earth, combined with your skill with words, is a pure pleasure, thank you.


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  3. Lovely atmospheric piece about my favorite time of year Andrea… you evoke such magic with these words about the fading of the year, and the mystery of all hallows … and I loved your evocative pictures, including the delicious looking spread for a hallow’een feast…enjoy evoking your dreams…


  4. Oh how I have missed delving into the poetic descriptions and metaphors of your writing! I remember you saying Autumn is your favourite time of year and I can see your writing come alive even more…at same time feel your disappointment. In truth, I expected more Color from the pics of your autumn foliage, so you are right about it being more grey this year. I think the weather is upside down all over the world. In this side of the world, it marked end of rainy season and there was no transition of heavy torrential, lighting and thunder filled nights of end of season rain. Hamattan/dry season descended upon us with little warning and a scorching vengeance of heat waves. Foliage shrivelled up and dried overnight


    • And I’ve missed your visits! Yes, autumn definitely hasn’t been as vibrant as last year – a dry, mild season. It’s turned very chilly now though and I am hoping for a ‘proper’ cold winter. Your dry season sounds very challenging, especially coming without warning, I hope that you find ways to be comfortable in it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lol what is your definition of ‘proper’ cold winter? Honestly I find tropical weather does not inspire me…I miss living in the 4 seasons climate and Winter was always my favourite time of the year as it comes with scenic snow laden outdoor and picturesque town scenes, always felt like I was living in a Christmas postcard while I was in Canada


    • My idea of a proper winter is like the one you’ve described! But actually, we don’t get that much snow here – it might snow for a day here and there but it doesn’t usually last. Our last real major snow was a few years ago now. Because we’re close to the sea it’s usually a little warmer here than it is inland. I hope for snow, but if not that, then at least chilly, frosty days. The last few winters seem to have been a little damp and muddy.


  6. You have perfectly captured the shift of seasons and the stillness of November. Love your atmospheric writing and those pies look delicious!


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