Friday, 4 February 2011

The Winter of Dreaming Trees

 "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower"
~ Albert Camus

Rich auburn, soft light, deep crunching, the very smell of the season.

I love autumn, the final glorious swansong of the year in the life of a tree.  Hmm, what a pithy phrase, "I love ..."; for words that should, in theory, be so evocative, they do nothing to describe the sense of cheer this season brings into my sometimes heavily grey world.  The stirring that it does of my heart!  There is a magic to October, one which spreads a lightness of feeling as threads of majestic golds and reds are woven through the clear, crisp air into the Welsh skies.  It doesn't matter how foggy or drizzly the weather, the trees burn with a light that radiates warmth and casts their alchemic spell over the world.

This post is long overdue.  I have been meaning to put pen to paper (as it were), but I have not been able to, frightened of a bereavement.  I've been desperately clinging onto the glory of autumn, the buoyant feeling it gives me, and it was as if by writing about it I'd be losing it in a sense.  As if somehow the commital to paper would be synonymous with the golden leaves falling to the ground, to their death.  Thoughts of the radiant season have been like a life jacket through the starkness of January.

It is easy to get carried away on the wave of autumn glory; the colour, the smell, the resplendence, but lurking are melancholic undertones.  The leaves are reaching the end.  They will fall, they will crunch, they will die.  But, during the month of October, oh death I salute you!  For this is not a time to mourn, this is a celebration, a season of joy, the pinnacle!  From the first buds in January, through flowering in May to fruiting in August, it is all leading up to this.  To the final, most beautiful and intricate part of the cycle.  Like the most delicate ballet, every twist, point and leap is leading up to the final scene, the great crescendo.  As the end nears, the music builds and there is a spectacular burst of life before the end.  It is a moment most lovely, most full of life.

And the added beauty to this sweeping leafy zenith?  It is not over, we have been fooled!  Indeed the individual leaves may have dropped and long gone but the tree is far from gone.  There it sits in a dormant state, having arrested all growth while the weather is harsh.  For it too does not like winter, it sleeps, it dreams and prepares for the season ahead.  This survival strategy pulls the tree through winter, where conditions are too difficult for plant growth.  The internal biological clock protects the tree and is triggered by temperature, moisture and changes in light levels.  I wonder what they dream as they sway in the wind, as they tick over, waiting for that spring burst with their new lease of life. 

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