A DAY in autumn, any year;
and you alone in the treasure-house of the Earth. A golden path runs
through the golden woods. The leaves whisper and rustle under your feet.
The sunlight filters in a mist of gold through the gilded branches of old
trees. A rabbit darts out of his burrow, and the dry leaves are scattered
like fairy shields thrown into disarray by the assault of a giant. Ever
and anon, a single, sun-touched fragment of gold filigree drops like a
jewel from the gown of Mother Nature, spinning and glinting between the
dark boughs, now dulled to old amber by the dancing shadows, now burning
like a slow-falling star in the life-giving rays of the sun. At last,
noiselessly, it settles among the wet moss, to rust against the chilling
bosom of the Earth.
A spray of bramble, heavy with shining berries, catches at your clothes as
you follow the path to nowhere. The dry bracken is splitting, and ready
for the fire. Beside the track, the heather flaunts her browning bells
with the wistful defiance of fading beauty.
But it is early, yet, for more than a hint of sadness. The merry
buccaneer, October, is still in his prime, and gloating over his spoils.
Lavishly, he scatters the doubloons and ducats of the plundered woodland
abroad, or pours them through his jewelled fingers into the overflowing
coffers of the year. His yellow ear-rings flash in the sun, and the
hamadryads whisper at his coming, and yield up their gold with a sigh for
lost youth and the days that are no more. Prophetically, a
scarlet-breasted robin rustles among the dead leaves.
The silence is so profound that you can hear your own heartbeats,
blending, as it were, with the heartbeats of the world. You are neither
happy nor sad, but a little of each. The part of you that is growing old
already grieves the doomed year.
The part of you that is forever young reaches out for the touch of Midas
-- leaps forward to meet the unborn Spring.
Leaf-fall on a path at Craigiehall