There was what felt like the last golden day. Sun warmed the face, the wind countered by encouraged buttoning and belting up the coat. I was walking to work, a short but lovely walk where at one point a path sweeps in from the right curving around a small patch of young oak trees. The wind was picking up so a long horde of properly crispy autumn leaves skittered and tumbled into and past my path to whirl riotously in the road. For some reason they put me in mind of a small herd of baby ostriches in Fota Island years ago that had thundered around in a tight little pack, for all the world like they were sharing a hive mind. The enormous cones near the top of a large pine on the road were still, sitting beautifully framed by one of the endless blue skies we had quite a few of this year. But the light had that too new, too early in the day quality for so late an hour, and the trees had so few leaves left to give up.
The next day was murky grey, that all pervasive, soaked through no matter how many layers you wore kind of wet day. It was a grey that felt like it never quite escaped the night before, untinted by any warmth or light. That night driving home was that true dark of starless, moonless nights. Thick, smothering dark piled itself over the thin beams of my headlights, they just about managed to coax a low, sullen grey green as they swept along the road side verges. Where battalions of leaves were evident before, now only a few scatter skittered frantically through the pale avenue of light to collapse into the increasingly defeated soggy mats at road edge. Trees stretched into an unknowable murk, the road became misshapen with shadows and long fingers of obsidian floodwater obscuring the line I needed to travel. This dark, the only dark I do not like, settled in to claim its season.
I live in a country where any animal I might share the woods with is extremely unlikely to cause me harm by tooth or claw. The curious shriek of tree scraping tree in the wind does not disturb me, shadows only occasionally startle the buried deep parts of my primate brain. The wind whooshing and shushing through the trees in day or night does not distress me, though I will not venture into woodland in a storm, my hide is not overly thick and my brain will not benefit from being caved in by falling boughs. But in this dominating darkness even trees cast unfriendly shadows and twist wickedly in the imagination. It is completely unsurprising to me that we, small lonely frightened humans, seek to light back up the world. Just when my mood begins to plummet small twinkling lights appear (as do huge bands and ropes of extremely bright lights, but my brain resonates to the small, warm glowing ones) The birch tree in my garden, a weeping variety, frequently catches my eye looking resplendent in water drops. This year I found led lights that have tiny lights like drops and before ever I put a tree inside my house I had those lights on my birch tree. Neither the water drop days or the lights seem to photograph very well, but they make me happy. It seems to me that if our entire cultural memory around the world was to disappear we would end up inventing something to celebrate with lights all over again. I can hide from the murk with my lights until the heavens open to the frost and the moon, and galaxies whirl overhead for all to see.