When I see friends posting photos on social websites of the magnificence of Autumnal New England, I find myself longing to travel to see it with my own eyes. One day, I promise myself, one day I will see the glorious, vast swathes of foliage, each tree a slightly different hue from xanthous ivory to bloody incarnadine, with every conceivable shade between. As far as the eye can see. Yes, that is definitely something, high up on my bucket list.
Of course, we have autumn here too, with some glorious examples of Mother Nature changing her garments, each individually becoming more glorious than the one before. Last week Rillington, our local big village, began the annual tree moulting with some beautiful examples of colour and light.
Scampston House and lake have provided me with a beautiful backdrop for some lovely, autumnal foliage photos in recent years. But what of this year, here and now?
The conker trees, horse-chestnuts as they are more widely known, have produced a bountiful crop and I was delighted to capture this image of a child gathering conkers with her family, on the lane from Scampston, clearly selecting her preferred specimens carefully.
I loved the light – it was a beautifully bright, crisp morning which gave a rather ethereal feel to the atmosphere. I watched as she moved around the overhanging branches, occasionally squealing with delight as her latest find surpassed all that had come before. It was one of those moments that felt like I was watching a film rather than being there in person. October light can do that sometimes.
Strolling carelessly down the lane, I could hardly help but notice the juxtaposition of enduring evergreens and fugacious broad-leaved foliage.
Holly and ivy entwined along the hedgerow, with bright, glossy Hunter’s Green leaves and almost florescent red berries just shimmering in the morning light.
I hummed the tune in my head – although it’s entirely possible that ‘The Holly and The Ivy, now they are both full grown; o-of all the trees that are in the woods, the holly bears the crown!’ may have been trilled aloud, joining the blackbird and sparrows in joyful chorus, I’m not entirely sure. I have a tendency to break into song when alone, out of earshot of most humans and in the presence of such glorious, uproarious splendour of a bright October morning in the English countryside.
More centrally in the village, houses awash in deeply rubescent foliage cannot fail to catch the eye of people passing by -such splendour is hard to ignore.
The trickling stream that runs along the side of the road gurgles playfully, reflecting the pale blue sky in repetitious ripples as it bubbles forth under the crossroad and onward, downstream toward the rushing river.
Morning has truly broken now. We stroll round the corner, coming face to face with the path of righteousness, leading ever upward to the venerable village church.
In the morning sunshine, the church clock chimes the quarter-hour in a serenely sonorous tone, reminding villagers of the inevitable passage of time.
I look up into the bright blue of the sky, seeing time from a different perspective.
Sounds become markedly muffled; I feel like I am being transported through time, drawn to consider the occupants of this tiny resting place for this ancient crossroads. I begin to notice the tombstones, lying ramshackled and ruined in the graveyard. A peaceful, tranquil air of silence seems pervasive.
Enchanted, I read testaments to long-forgotten villagers, wondering who they were, what they did with their lives, why they were here.
Frank Wharbeck of Low Moor. Who departed this life on the third of August 1776, aged sixty-six years.
Who loved you enough to raise such a marker on your passing? What did you mean to those around you?
Matthew Pape of Scampston. An Honest Man. Who died on November 14th 1778, aged sixty-five years.
You were so well thought of in the village as to warrant your headstone being raised on the side of the church wall, for all to see from far and wide. Who were you? What made you such an honest man?
And Robert, son of Robert and Elizabeth Pennock of Rillington. You died just before Christmas in 1852, aged only twenty-four years.
What happened to you? What might have happened if you had lived a longer life?
The ghosts of the past are at peace, resting quietly. But they are always here. October light has a habit of playing tricks on the unsuspecting. Time is simply a perspective.
As I return to twenty fourteen, something catches my eye on the grass… an empty shell, from which a tiny bird has scrambled into the new day.
A symbol of life renewing itself perhaps.
I hope you enjoyed my slightly spooky trek this week. Thanks for reading, once again, my friends!