Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Melancholy Beauty of Autumn Walks


Autumn, season of  sadness with the possibilities of summer gone, and the chill of winter upon us with the promise of leaden skies.   Keats poem (below) has been interpreted as a meditation on death

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
                                                  John Keats, To Autumn

For me the season often induces a not unpleasant sense of melancholy, an awareness of my own mortality and of the passing of time - time that I wasted and will never have again.

At its best it is quite the loveliest of seasons and this years autumn colour is the most vibrant I have seen in years.

The afternoon sun lit the Dorset countryside enhancing the landscape with a glow of gold. We walked from the Brace of Pheasants pub at Plush, quickly shaking off our red wine and game stew induced stupor when we experienced the exhilaration of a murmuration of starlings, wheeling and diving across the landscape.

Their chattering calls changing to an enormous whoosh when, as one, they suddenly took to the skies then a dark cloud descending like a whirling avian tornado to suddenly become stilled and silent as they settled back down onto the fields and trees.

The next day a short walk around the supposedly haunted Coney's Castle gave us some more of the best Autumnal offerings.  Spectacular views to the coast and countryside where marauding Danes and Vikings once pillaged and plundered.

I bet they weren't as out of puff after climbing the slopes as we were or they would have been easily picked off by the Iron Age fort dwellers at the top.

We felt no ghosts today, just the gentle melancholy of the Autumnal beauty all around.



VP said...

We're at the yellow and bronze stage at the moment. The streets round here look like they're paved with gold.

I love the skeletal trees you found on your walks. Judging by the sunken paths it looks like you were walking on some old drovers' paths?

JD said...
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Arabella Sock said...

Comment above was me testing the WV or hopefully the lack of it now.

VP, I think some of the sunken paths were old drovers' ones. The ones around Coney's Castle (a hill fort rather than a stone built castle) were ditches originally built around the fort I think.

James A-S said...

I had some of my earliest underage pints of beer at the Brace of Pheasants in Plush.
There may be a plaque somewhere on the wall.

Or at the very least in the corner of the car park.

wellywoman said...

Stunning photos there. I have a love/hate relationship with autumn and winter. I don't like the dark and the cold and yearn to be out in the fresh air gardening but I also realise there is a lot that is beautiful at this time of year. I know I would miss the seasons if I lived somewhere with permanent sunshine. Still I wouldn't mind being able to leave the country on Boxing Day and only return at the start of March for the daffs blooming.

patientgardener said...

I love beech trees, grew up with 3 big ones at the end of the garden and spent many a happy autumn day jumping in and out of piles of leaves.

I like Autumn for me it is time to take stock but also to breath and relax and to hibernate a bit.

Seeing this post makes me realise that I really should make time to go out and walk more.

Helle (Helen) said...

Ah, reading about my marauding ancestors always makes me puff out my chest - we once were somebody ;-))) - apparently leaf fall has been very late this year and autumn so much more beautiful for it. Wonderful pictures, especially those skeletal ones, as mentioned by VP. We drove through an alley of similar ones on the North Devon coast this year, absolutely stunning.

Ms B said...

Quite brilliant. Very jealous of the starling viewing.

Arabella Sock said...

James, The Brace of Pheasants is a fine place now and no doubt even finer when you misspent your youth there. It is more of a dining pub now as so many are since drink driving laws got tough and evening jollies out into the country for a few pints became a thing of the past.

Wellywoman, Boxing Day is a fine time to leave. I think I get to be at my most SAD during March as if the darkest hour is just before dawn - so I wouldn't turn up again until May given the choice.

PatientGardener - Nothing like a good walk for blowing your blues away - although invariably I need several days to recover from one!

Helle - I was curious as to why your marauding ancestors sailed all the way round to Dorset when there must have been easier pickings on the East Coast. Also it is much flatter there so they wouldn't have had all these pesky hill forts to deal with. I can understand the Danes journeying to Dorset as it is more en route - but the Norwegians.. bit out of their way I would have said.

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