Beyond the November Grey

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The days are getting noticeably shorter and winter is coming. It’s always tempting to stay indoors and draw the curtains, to sit in a pool of lamplight and cocoon yourself away from the cold and the drizzle. The winds and driving rain have all but stripped the trees of their autumn finery and the world is once again grey and brown and unwelcoming.

It’s a strange time, this epoch between the golds and bronzes of October and the frost and sparkle of Yuletide. Creeping chills and damp trying to insinuate their way into the house. That feeling of trying to push away the gloom as thick blankets of cloud sit low and oppressive.


A walk may not seem like a tempting prospect. The last few leaves are fluttering down to join the rest, now sodden, on the muddy earth. Jewel-like orchard fruits are gone too, either harvested or blown onto the ground to rot where they’ve landed. So what can we see on days like these? What little – to coin an Instagram hashtag – flashes of delight?

Well: a lot of green. Lichens and mosses, dusting and carpeting tree trunks and stone walls with rich velvety textures. Emerald and verdigris, teal and chartreuse. Look too at the evergreens: the dark glossy leaves of the holly, the silvery needles of the firs.

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Those pale and empty skies act as the perfect foil to a flock of geese flying overhead in a V formation – one of my favourite sights whilst out walking in ‘almost winter’. And, of course, bare branches mean you’ll see more life in the trees too: squirrels darting about, inquisitive robins keeping watch over their jealously-guarded territories.

Try to embrace the starkness and the shorter days. The moody light, the glimpses into little habitats which are usually hidden from view by foliage. Small woodland pools, scattered with penny-like birch leaves, reflecting the weak sunshine and almost pearlescent trunks. Tiny kingdoms thrive on the top of fenceposts and along fallen trees. Even the decay itself, as the vegetation starts to change colour and collapse into itself, has a beauty all of its own.

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AutumnSarah Hardman