The countryside in this year’s autumn has so far waxed energetically and boisterously. Like a second juvenescence, it has poured forth ripening, rotting and then withering fruit, and shed golden leaves like a harvest. The glorious late-autumn sun has caught trees and set them aflame.
But whereas July’s fecundity is like unripe fruit, pushing juices and life into itself as it expands, October’s is unsustainable and hollow. Less a sphere and more its shell, it has no life inside; just cold, dark dampness. Today, the husk of autumn showed itself to have finally cracked and collapsed inwards. As it did so, it released weird, unhealthy humours across the flood plains in Witney. The sun began to set, and the lights came on, to reveal a landscape entirely held prisoner by shades of grey.
The mist stood in the air at an indeterminate distance from the path, everywhere and nowhere. It sat outside of any focal plane, like a visitation from Jack Frost, not quite yet incarnate; or more prosaically like a smear on the glasses. Its lack of focus made me squint and blink to continue to believe it was really there. Slabs of it covered the Langel common, then poured into hollows near what was once the Newland mill, filling them to their brims. Sheep stood chewing unconcernedly, as it wrapped a chill around their woolly bodies.
All those golden leaves have begun to rot, turning to mud where they stand. A day’s sun cannot dry out the mess that a day’s rain leaves behind. The fake fruits of autumn are now no more than wet, flattened skins haunted by memories of summer. The year has turned.