During autumn I feel just like a wood mouse collecting beechnuts in the path lined with beech trees and saving them somewhere for winter. Quickly taking care of some last pieces of business before winter arrives. For me: enjoy what is left for me to see, before everything is covered in a white snow blanket.
Nature walks in the autumn are special because of the approaching departure of the season. It makes that you want to soak it all in one more time. Such a rich season, autumn! My paint palette has a difficult time keeping up. How do you translate the bright golden hues? Where is that tube of red paint that resembles the red of the American Oak trees, the yellow of the birch trees, or the whirling gold-ochre of the reed fields? Autumn represents the grand finale for colours!
Dragging my feet through the fallen leaves – no, you never outgrow that habit – I always pick up the prettiest leaves so I can dry them in my pattern book of autumn colours. It is something I must have picked up from my father; sometimes I find dried leaves in his old books… Suddenly I remember the “autumn notebook” I kept during elementary school. We were instructed to create our own autumn notebook, and it should contain dried leaves of as many tree species as possible. Now that was a task I was willing to take on! Naturally I collected the most leaves, I made sure of that! The result was an almost square notebook that would no longer close and was impossible to handle. In addition to the beautiful leaves I also collected a few branches and taped a few pieces of bark in the notebook. The bark of the birch tree was beautiful!!!
I vividly remember the feeling of endless abundance. And yes, I received the highest grade possible on the task! That feeling of abundance returns every autumn. In many ways all our senses are tickled. Just take the scent of rotting leaves, damp soil, moss, herbs and toadstools. Oftentimes I close my eyes to better take in all the different scents. On the subject of scents – on my most recent walk through the woods I recognized an odour that was not the most pleasant of all… the common stinkhorn! Flies are attracted by the scent of carcass and after landing on the stinkhorn spread the spores.
We are now quite far into the autumn season, most mushrooms and toadstools are passed their prime but plenty are left! Just yesterday, under some birch trees in the field I found a group of fly agarics, in every stage of their life. I also found a group of citron amanitas and vermillion waxcaps, and on top of an old tree stump some sulphur tufts. Above me, high in the birch trees, a group of Eurasian Siskins is feeding on the birch seeds. The seeds whirl down like early snowflakes. It is lovely to hear the Siskins sing and chat their contact calls with some whistling and chirping mixed in for good measure.
When I waved goodbye to my friend and namesake Marjolein this morning she discovered a collared earthstar under the hedge by the front door!! I will definitely paint it. I fit were up to me autumn would last a lot longer. Maybe into March??? I wonder whether we will be treated to frost on the branches again tomorrow?
Frost represents the first magical trick of winter; everything is covered in delicate lace. The more plants you leave in your garden after they have bloomed the more you get to admire this magic trick. Besides, it is good for the soil to leave some leaves on it. You wouldn’t want to sleep without a blanket when it’s this cold? And just look at the birds enjoying all the seeds they can still find on those brown sticks. All kinds of chickadees and sparrows know exactly where to look, and robins, blackbirds and wrens are searching on the ground between the leaves.
There is so much to paint in autumn!