16 October 2018

Everything is suddenly feeling very autumnal. For the first time since early spring, I decided to wear my hiking boots for my stroll around the lanes this afternoon. Good call: the heavy rain at the end of last week has made the going muddy in places. I like wearing hiking boots: it makes even the shortest of walks seem more of an expedition.

Someone had lit a large bonfire in the field behind the Lane Ends. For an anxious moment, as I rounded the bend and looked down from the top of the steep rise on Nook Lane, it looked for all the world as if the roof of the pub was on fire.

There seem to be more berries than usual this autumn. I passed one rowan visibly sagging under their weight, and the holly at the end of the bridleway was looking most festive. Even the Manor House elder was getting in on the act, and the transplanted hawthorns in our hedge have done us proud.

Some say a profusion of autumn berries is a sign of a long, cold winter ahead. Nonsense, obviously: it’s hard enough for the Met Office, equipped with supercomputers and scores of PhD-wielding meteorologists, to make accurate three-day weather forecasts; to suggest a tree can predict the weather an entire season ahead is romantic twaddle in the extreme.

Shutting the driveway gate this evening, I caught the distant sound of what I took to be a bike with squeaky brakes bombing downhill. As I listened more carefully, the noise resolved into the distant honking of geese. I scoured the sky until two high V-formations appeared from the west. There must have been about a hundred birds. The formations merged and split, then merged again, with the front birds occasionally peeling off to let some other daft sods take the lead for a change. They were so high, I had no chance of telling what species they were. Having said that, I’m pretty hopeless with geese, and might have struggled to tell what they were had they passed just a few feet above my head. But geese in autumn formation is always a wonderful, uplifting sight—especially so far from the coast.

A lone bat flitting beneath the canopy of the sycamore at dusk. I wonder where they hibernate.

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
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…wonderful. Science and history and geography and evolution and culture all tangled up in musings while walking about the moors around Hebden Bridge.”—PZ Myers
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