Does autumn exist on the North Coast 500?
Photo; we will go to the ball
We are used to cold dark days in winter where the sun seems to forget to rise. But summer has barely passed. In fact summer scarcely managed to get here at all. And now this, we were only at the beginning of October and the light, what there was of it, was more reminiscent of sometime in the bleaker half of the year. Day two of semi darkness, mixed in with torrential rain and wind, what else could we do but go for a walk.
Nature may have hammered on our door but we needed to feel it for ourselves. Staying indoors and hunkering down was just not an option, as sky and sea blended into one homogeneous colour. It felt like the rain had somehow manged to wash away any menacing flickers of brightness. Undaunted, we, like so many adventurers before us, went in search of something that would give us heart, something that would give us meaning; we went in search of a lost autumn.
After a couple of weeks of virtual events where real temperatures didn’t matter and wet and cold only existed in our minds, we were suddenly and violently thrown into reality. And yes we had forgotten how horrible it could be. There was no autumnal glow, just deep penetrating grey.
The woods did not look inviting. The trees were all dark green. Not a natural forest then but one of those commercial plantations that seemed to stifle fauna and encourage little diversity. Nature thankfully had attempted to circumnavigate it in some places. Deer and foxes had forced their way in and the odd bird could be seen flapping lonely within the branches. Rivers of rain ran along soggy paths. Leaves leapt of sodden trees and dripping wet dog threw us dirty looks as her low slung tummy turned grubby with sloppy gritty mud.
However we were not the only ones brave enough to venture out. Other households bursting at the seams with pent up children’s energy were also looking for relief from what nature could offer. Finally a burst of colour from warm waterproofs and brightly coloured wellies. Manmade, not the coveted splash we were seeking from the countryside. Bosie, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, I suspected by then was feeling envious of those rain coats.
As we neared the weir, the terrain and forest began to gradually change. The land streamed down towards the river allowing grasses and other plants to battle their way into the bracken. Menacing tall trees were being replaced with smaller gently curved varieties. Various shades of wheaten sprouted from the more fertile soil. Colour was slowly creeping into the foliage as we neared the rushing waters. Stretching above all this, spikes of Rosebay willowherb could be seen bashfully hinting at their soon to be autumnal blush.
Bosie the dog, being of the mustard variety, was beginning to steadily blend in with the undergrowth as it began to resemble something more attuned to what we would expect at this time of the year. Then suddenly, out of the gloom and the dark green looming trees; a blast of orange and russet blazed out of the murkiness. There it stood, the Cinderella of the forest all ready to go to the autumnal ball. Our spirits immediately lifted with the sight. Autumn was coming, we had found its beginnings; it hadn’t bypassed us after all. Boise’s happier outlook I suspected though, was due more to the fact that we were now on our route back to the car, where a treat awaited her.