The glory of the leaf

A few weeks ago, someone tried to convince me that Autumn was a sad and depressing season. As we sat, looking through my window, she persisted with her viewpoint:  “Everything’s dying…the swallows fly home …the birds that stay will starve because there’s no food…there’s nothing to look forward to”. How curious that while looking at the same trees, ablaze with orange and gold, she saw only death while I saw only glory. Yet I know all too well how our internal world alters our perception. I remember a long, grey season of barrenness, where my inner emptiness seemed replicated all around me, wherever I looked. Fortunately that internal winter has long gone. Over recent weeks, walking by the canal, I have been captivated by the sight of ordinary scenes, lifted and transformed by Autumn’s colours and light.

A narrowboat pierces a ring of golden-green leaves:

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An unremarkable bridge – usually nothing more than a graffiti-covered home to roosting pigeons – becomes as graceful as the vaulted ceiling of a cathedral:


A boat is moored in liquid gold:


A grey, concrete bridge becomes a perfect frame for a solitary fisherman:


Of course, winter is not far off and these leaves and colours will soon be gone, but I will enjoy them while I can. They remind me of a quotation Tom found in Westonbirt Arboretum last year:

That the decay of the leaf should be the glory of the leaf is a perennial encouragement to all”. 


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