It was undoubtedly a mild October for many of us across the United Kingdom. Just last week I felt overly warm walking the edgeland in little more than trousers, t-shirt and a thin cotton jumper but as my week surrounded by nature and away from work drew to a close there was only one thing on my mind; the changing of the clocks.
Living in a seasonal climate brings a pleasure that is unmatched in the natural world. A change in the season heralds a great change in nature as different plants and flowers fade into the background or arrogantly scramble to the fore in brash and bold arrays of colour and form. Fauna finds a place to build, nest and nurture young or hunker down beneath rocks and logs or deep in burrows to hibernate. Through the wheel of the year trees trade buds with green leaves and blooms then seeds and shades of orange, gold and red before naked branches reach across empty skies bearing warts and all. I couldn’t imagine anything other and though at times in deepest darkest winter we may utter thoughts of ‘moving abroad’ I could never trade the multitude of intricate and delicate changes as the seasons pass for a barren sun-scorched open plain.
Of course the impending doom of dark and colder months can bring its own sufferings to man and beast but rather than bemoan we take it upon ourselves to celebrate in festivities of light with jack-o’-lanterns, diwali sparkles, fireworks and Christmas fairy lights. Would you forego these celebrations so easily, would they feel quite the same in balmy weather? Maybe the ex-pats among us would disagree. Man like Moth will always be drawn to light. We are diurnal beings after all.
Just as soon as we turned the pins on clocks and watches backwards nature nods in recognition. In almost perfect synchronicity I awoke today, like much of the lowland UK, to find nature has presented the first ground frost of the year. It is cold, bitter even, as I leave for work at 07:30am but it is gloriously sunny and the blanket of mist resting above the turf on the park is achingly beautiful. Blackbird chatter rises from the frosted lawns to warm the coldest heart and all seems right with the world. Unfortunately when I finish work it is already dark. It is a trade-off that does leave me a little disappointed.
The dark evenings mean that my forays into the edgeland are now the thing of weekends. It is however less the weather, less the darkness and more the enforced constraint that bugs me. I’m sure that If my days were not bound by a chair on wheels, computer screen and telephone handset I would far less notice the apparent absence of light and life outside. The flip-side is that by now I have come to know an edgeland rich in mystery, intrigue and amazement and so those brief weekend moments will be cherished all the more.
It is easy to love nature in spring and summer because it is easy to get outside, it is obvious even from behind glass panes and the confines of cars, buses and trains. Days are elastic and stretch long into nights, still warm, still occupied in close quarters by bats, midges and moths. It is a cliché but life does go on. Autumn and winter are far from the harbingers of strife and death. Autumn and winter are full of life, life that goes on. Natures clock is not a barrier. It is awe-inspiring. It is life, death, everything in between and doesn’t wait for anybody or anything. It is a thing to revel in and celebrate. Why hibernate when there is still so much to see? to smell? to feel?