Friday, 7 November 2008

Autumn reflections

Autumn is my favourite season. Well then, of course, there’s spring too, and summer’s good………. even winter has its blessings. Let’s face it, I love living in this country because we do get to experience ALL of the seasons, although summer can be noticeable by her absence! By the end of each season, I am ready for the next: looking forward to the changes ahead and hauling the next season’s clothes out of storage. This time of year is a triumph of colour, a feast of preserving and storing and that distinctive smell of wood smoke as tiny spirals dance lightly from cottage chimneys. Putting a match to the fire and hearing the crackle and spit; seeing the flare of flame and inhaling the smell of apple wood. Candles glimmer on the mantelpiece and the house smells of apple spice, cinnamon or winter berries. I put hand crocheted “granny” blankets over the backs of all the chairs and the curtains are drawn against the ink black night.

Today was one of those autumnal days of watery sunshine and I went to a local church to clean it for my mum. Mum is the official church cleaner but she is spending the week up in Scotland with my dad and I have volunteered to step in. Bromesberrow church is such a lovely church. It dates back to 1170AD and is full of architectural gems. The drive up to it is a tree-lined avenue and today the sun set the colours off to perfection. Bromesberrow lies in the foothills of the Malverns, where they merge into the Eastnor hills. From the A417, the timber framed spire can be seen jutting out from the trees and standing in relief against the gentle rolling landscape of the hills.

And then, in a spiritual juxtaposition, behind Bromesberrow (or Bromsberrow as it is also called), following the twisting lanes, you come to White Leaved Oak – a tiny settlement nestling at the base of the hills. There are some amazing walks around here, not least a visit to the White Leaved Oak itself. Much folklore and legend has sprung up about this tree, including debates as to whether it is THE original pagan White Leaved Oak. Nonetheless, it is clearly a place of pilgrimage and the tree is adorned with crystals, ribbons, flowers and crafts, especially at Solstice. It is said the tree marks the centre point of laylines which include locations such as Stonehenge and Glastonbury.

Wherever your Spiritual faith lies, on a day like today, you only have to look around you and see the wonders of nature and marvel at her display of vibrant colours, even as she is dying off, ready to be reborn in the Spring. My drive home was spent in quiet contemplation: having been moved by stories from other PurpleCoo members, seeing nature at work, spending time in the serenity of that ancient church and thinking of family and friends. It is these quiet, still moments that bring us closer to who we really are and I felt the stress ebb away.

I drove up the lane, glad of my 4x4 as I plunged through mud and yet more mud. Now I know why I always seem to have a stripe of mud on the inside of my right calf – note to self “wash the door sills!” As I reverse on the drive, J is in the kitchen window and the kettle is gently sending puffs of steam from its spout as it boils on the Rayburn. He knows me so well, this man of mine………….