Landscape is soft edged in September, the memory of summer still with us. The sky is bright blue, streaked with grey and white clouds. A slight chill in the air suggests that Autumn is ever closer. For now the bones of the landscape are obscured, vegetation billowing and fulsome. Richmond Park is my barometer of the wild, a touchstone reminding me of the changing seasons.
The grasses are carrying yellow, bronze and gold seed heads on their still green stems. The seed heads move in the breeze, an ephemeral and lightly dancing cloud. Darkest brown stems of wildflowers spike up randomly. Ant hills are scattered across the grasslands, bright green powder puffs each sprouting a tiny garden of jewel-like flowers. Clumps of Juncus reeds, needle sharp stems, dark green with almost black seed heads, held aloft on wiry stems. Bracken prevails, still green but now gently collapsing, deer trampled. Soon the green will give way to dark tan, the leaves will mash down and hug the land in readiness for winter.
A lattice work of bright green paths slices through the cloudy grasslands. People lines, deer lines, rabbit lines, grass nibbled to softest velvet. The whole picture is an abstract geometry of texture and colour. Landscape is a memory bank of human and animal happenings, etched on the surface of the land in marks, furrows, lines and patterns.
Walking slowly into the wood, watching, listening, pausing, I feel like a trespasser on hallowed ground. This land belongs to the ancient Oaks, immense, decaying, gnarled, living sculptures. These trees are witness to lives that happened around them. Memories are clasped in the spaces between them. An odd expectant silence then the squeal of a parakeet. Sweet chestnuts fall to the ground, leaves are tinged with autumnal gold. The earth smells damp, a chill descends on the wood.
Stumbling from the gloom of the wood into the brightness of a fading September day, I relish these last days of summer, memorise the colours and smells, as fuel to feed my soul in the dark days of winter.