The days are rapidly getting shorter and the sun is moving lower in the sky as September comes to an end. As I write this on the twenty-third of September, I’m reminded that it is the Autumn equinox when day and night are of equal length. To make up for the gloom that some people can feel at this time of year, it is also thankfully a time of spectacular display in terms of nuts and berries, seeds and fungi, and the sight of flocks of migratory birds coming and going.
The hedgerows in the wood are full of blackberries and sloes, elderberries and haws, all ready for thrushes and blackberries to pick off their branches and for voles, hedgehogs and squirrels to harvest off the ground. The unusual episodes of hot weather we’ve had this summer seem to be abating and the sun is finally tolerable with a little more promise of rain in the air. The water level in the pond had become very low but, as always, regular observers will know that it will rise with the winter rain and will soon be back up to bank level.
As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, the wood is gradually transforming as green leaves become yellow with bursts of red or purple. Berries and hips of all colours are providing a shiny display and the hazel nuts in the far corner of the wood are no doubt tempting squirrels and all sorts of mice and voles. They are high protein energy sources and are just as attractive to humans once they are brown and ripened. As one of the first foods picked by humans, they still haven’t lost that appeal as sales of a certain nut spread and individually wrapped chocolates confirm. Thanks to thoughtful planting by organisers and volunteers, Jubilee Wood is a larder of free food for all of us as well as a feast for the eyes. Soon the autumn colours will be dispersed by the October gales that seem to be becoming a regular occurrence so why not take a wander round before the next stage of the seasonal circle is centre stage?
The Wood Wanderer
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