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  • Francine Beaton

Autumn Days


When the days become shorter and the nights longer, the leaves turning in beautiful hues of browns, reds and yellows and orange, and the air crisp enough to add another layer, you know it is autumn. The start of a new season. A new beginning but also the ending of summer and those careful, free days. It is a time to sit still, and reflect, a time to breathe deep and enjoy everything this season will bring us.


Living in the southern hemisphere, and especially in Pretoria, our change of seasons is not as dramatic as those in the northern hemisphere. I loved to watch photographs of the most beautiful scenes reflecting autumn beauty, and I envy those who could witness it year after year. My husband says we only have two seasons in Pretoria and that is summer and winter, but having said that, last year we barely had winter. Most of the winter days were warm and sunny. I think there were three days in total I added more than one layer of clothes.

Now, especially, I'm glad that I took the opportunity to travel last year. When may I be in this position again? I don't even want to think about it so, yes, I was lucky I had the opportunity to spend the autumn of 2019, or fall for my American friends, in Scotland. I first thought I was not going to see any autumn leaves. The days were warm when I arrived, and there was little sign for the changing colours except for a tree here and there, like the one in Princess Street Gardens and the other one at the Royal Zoological Gardens, Edinburgh.


The decaying leaves providing a carpet under your in the woodlands in Corstorphine Road and the Water of Leith Walkway, at least gave away that autumn was near.

Even trips to the countryside in Stirlingshire and West Kilbride, produced few opportunities. And then, one day it changed. An icy, icy morning warned us that winter was not too far away. We were about to embark on a road trip to the Highlands that day. Our first stop was in Dunblane, where we watched the South Africa-Japan game in the Rugby World Cup in a local pub before we took a few detours through Perth to stay the night in Kirriemuir, with only a few glimpses of the changing of the leaves.

And then, Aberdeen. At first, I thought I would still not have any luck, but then a chance meeting of a man in a pub (you often get the best meals and advice in a pub), directed me to Johnston Gardens. Oh, my word! I spent about four hours there. It is the most beautiful garden, completely free, and the autumn leaves so, so beautiful. I thought I died and gone to heaven. But, more about the garden in another post.

From Aberdeen, we drove to Nairn where we spend the night, again with the autumn colours eluding us until we reached the Highlands the next day. It was the road between Inverness and Ullapool and again from Ullapool to Gairloch that provided more opportunities to appreciate Scotland in autumn. Not only had the leaves changing colours, but the whole countryside was painted in an almost golden beauty.

My best find closer to the capital was in Callendar Park in Falkirk.

Maybe it is because we are now amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, that I notice the change from summer to autumn. Being in lockdown forces you to step back and see things from a different perspective. I don’t want to concentrate on that, however. With this post, I want to remind you of the beauty around us, even though it means that some things had to die but that, somehow, when it is all over, life will start anew and will bring us another season, another change, another kind of beauty. Let it remind us, that even though things may look bleak in the world right now, itwill change again. All we need to do is heed the advice from everyone and stay safe.


Until next time.


Francine



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