I’ve just come to the end of my 30-day yoga programme and, at the risk of sounding a bit self-congratulatory, I have to say I’m feeling pretty chuffed. This is the first time I’ve ever managed to find the discipline and motivation to follow a programme to the letter and to finish it in the allotted time, so it feels like quite an achievement. It has been a challenge and I won’t pretend that there weren’t days when I’d have preferred to leave my yoga mat well and truly rolled, but I’ve really enjoyed it and I’m certainly feeling stronger and more flexible as a result. I’m planning to start another 30-day programme soon, but in the meantime, I’m dipping in and out of the Yoga With Adriene November calendar of daily practices several times a week. It’s so good to stretch!
Something I’ve noticed as I’ve worked my way through the thirty days is an increasing desire to get out and have a good walk straight after breakfast. I’m not sure whether it’s some kind of subconscious balancing response to the afternoon yoga practice, the effect of the beautiful weather or just a natural call to revel in the season, but it’s something I’m enjoying immensely. How can I ignore the pull of these gorgeous mornings? It would be rude not to make the most of them!
There is a magical air to the woods at present. Without so much as a breath of wind, the leaves are taking their time on their final journey, falling softly and unhurriedly in an autumnal spectrum of bright fire. Visually, it is very beautiful, but it’s the sound that has captured my imagination, the dry patter and whisper of a thousand leaves spiralling, floating or tumbling downwards through the dwindling canopy like gentle snowflakes. It is nature’s music, this crisp, tinkling timpani. I am mesmerised.
I love the way, too, that everything is opening up to let in light and space. The skeletons of trees are emerging; hidden for many months by the lush green canvas of summer, now trunk and branch take centre stage. The birch stand ramrod straight, a few hazy clouds of leaves clinging on in the topmost branches.
The chestnuts have no such discipline; they are true contortionists, metallic limbs bent and twisted at crazy angles. I am reminded of some of the more challenging yoga postures from recent practices!
Despite the lazy pace of leaf fall, I am struck at how quickly the evergreens have become prominent, the vining ivies and brooding hollies now moving to take possession of the season as is their right.
They are a long way from dominating, though; the leaves might be drifting downwards but the landscape still has a fullness to it, albeit it one that has been touched with the wide sweep of autumn’s paintbrush.
As the canopy thins, the abundant birdlife becomes more apparent, too; of course, they have been there all summer but now the trees are alive with the busyness of birds and it is a pleasure to reacquaint myself with them. Family flocks of long-tailed tits with their energetic acrobatics and incessant chatter; the vocal bullfinches with their flamboyant flash of deep pink; a myriad tiny characters – goldcrests, firecrests, assorted warblers – so busy in the highest branches; silent treecreepers scurrying up trunks like scuttling mice; shy crested tits, their perky feathered mohicans making me smile every time. What a precious thing it is to spend moments like this with nature. I lose all track of time, completely absorbed in my surroundings; for me, it is the very best kind of meditation.
I’ve written before about how I love a bit of peace and solitude and these morning walks are giving me those things; I carry the obligatory mask with me ‘just in case’ but it’s a privilege to be able to wander without any social distancing worries, to stride out or saunter, to breathe deeply, to relax, simply to be. It wouldn’t be right to claim I’ve never met met another soul, however; there is someone I see often, an early bird long-distance runner. Mad man. Wonder who he can be? 😉
Despite this prevailing sense of autumn, the spring flowers in the verges are having a second wind, as they always do at this time of year. There is no great abundance, but still plenty of forage for hungry insects in the colourful dabs and spots amongst the leaf litter. There is knapweed, Queen Anne’s lace, St John’s wort, red clover, Three Birds Flying, granny’s bonnets, honeysuckle, hawkbit and scabious and even a beautiful patch of violets just up the lane from our house.
As in the wild, so in the garden. I love the way the calendula now sweep through the patch in sunny clumps after their summer rest. They are irrepressible: I’m harvesting the petals to dry for herbal teas and for every bloom I pick, two more spring up the next day. They will continue like this all through winter now.
On the subject of marigolds, the single French marigold plant that has taken so long to do anything much is now in its full glory. I feel I ought to be collecting and drying the flowers as a dyestuff but they are making such a bold splash of colour and are so full of bumble bees that I don’t have the heart.
Another little beauty is the oca, a brand new vegetable adventure for us this year and one that has proved interesting to follow. The plants are showing no signs of dying back yet ~ they are flourishing, in fact ~ and the dainty blooms are receiving the constant attention of bees and butterflies alike.
The roses and geraniums are still going strong in bold splashes of colour, the gorgeously fragrant peacock lily has started to flower, the honeysuckle shows no signs of giving up, the verbena bonariensis is having yet another go and as for the nasturtiums? Well, they are trailing through every nook and cranny and cascading in bright waterfalls wherever they have the chance.
Athough citrus trees blossom and fruit all year round here, the main harvesting season is about to begin. The first tantalising fruits on our young orange tree are still green, but there is a gradual and subtle change to their hue which promises great things to follow.
The kiwis have started their marathon season and are bringing a juicy sweetness to our palate in place of the figs which have well and truly finished now. The tracery of the almost bare branches and the last few leaves of the fig tree caught against the bluest of skies sums up the season perfectly for me. Ah, autumn. Bliss. 😊