Today I began the first of what will be many bramble bashing (or should that be obliterating) sessions throughout the autumn/winter as I try to get on top of the scrub encroaching on some of the farm’s stewardship plots. The sky seemed to be missing today, a great grey and white canvas only intermittently marked by the odd passing pheasant or pigeon, the former unable to get much lift to make sufficient impact upon the bleak sky as I looked upward and across. Pheasants annoy me, with their loud cackling call, their pompous plumage and their inability to fly properly, but I know I shouldn’t hold it against them. As I write this post now I hear them outside. Something has spooked them and they are calling out, confused and terrified of the world. Who can blame them I suppose when you primary reason for existing so far as human kind is concerned is to be shot.
I met dog walkers and horse riders, all of whom stopped for a wave and a natter, giving me a welcome respite from the strimmer, which otherwise seemed to shout its way angrily through the net of bramble, cutting and chomping as it went. Getting on top of this scrubby mess now will make life easier in future and enable light to penetrate the soil surface, previously impossible. I was making an even more despicable sound than the pheasants though. Anybody who ever thought the countryside is quiet should think again.
Autumn is usually a short season , or at least it seems so in Britain, as nobody can quite decide when one season ends and another begins. We have our ‘Indian Summer’ in September, at least we do in most years, which can in the mind be postponed so that autumn’s duration is short-changed. Similarly, the cold and wet associated with winter can just as easily be experienced in autumn, but we don’t claim it as such. One clear association with this oh so wonderful of seasons is of course the glorious paint box of reds, yellows and oranges the eye receives as the deciduous trees change identity, slowly drifting to sleep before their winter dormancy. This is a time of change, but there remains the hope of new life ahead, and we know that spring will come eventually. Until we get there we will have dark evenings, but these will be brightened by log fires, we look forward to Christmas festivities and can enjoy the splendour of the autumnal migrations. In our part of the world thousands of Dark Bellied Brent Geese descend on Essex from the Russian east and they will stay with us until the spring, enjoying the young wheat (unfortunately) and grazing on pastures. It’s a wonderfully special time of year, and it’s brilliant to be back in Essex this year so I can fully appreciate it. This time last year I was in the west country and I must admit that it does autumn well, with its splendid copper woodlands, but there’s nothing quite like experiencing seasonal change in a place that you know best, a place you call home.