Silver birch, off A830 ‘Road to the Isles’, a little west of Glenfinnan.
So that’s what autumn looks like. Now I remember!
One of the interesting things about island life is that there few trees make it to anything like maturity here. High winds are one evident reason – but sheep are, more prosaically, the more substantial other; new and fragile shoots tending to dislike the tender ministries of either.
Consequently, the usual seasonal markers – leaves turning red, yellow, gold and brown in autumn; and spring green in, well, spring – are absent. (Hallowe’eners, too, probably, although that’s a different story of which depopulation is one aspect; as indeed, and most sadly for me, is likely to be Bonfire Night: fireworks and the prevalence of strong winds doth not a good mix make.) Crofters clearly have plenty of seasonal work which occupies them at different times of the year, and they clearly know when it is spring and when it is autumn. But for us townies, with temperatures running if certainly not at a constant level but otherwise within a fairly small range, it can be a little disorienting – darker in winter, for sure; and definitely lighter, for much longer, in summer; and respectively somewhat colder, and then somewhat warmer (while, moving away from temperatures, the more keen-eyed of us can note changes in the constitution of the bird population) – but otherwise time passes with nature giving the casual observer few of the usual visual cues as to the point each year has reached.
Returning to the mainland for a couple of days at the weekend, I was struck by the autumn colours of Perthshire (and, here, Inverness-shire). (And, by the way, this does look to have been a spectacularly good autumn.) Within the good City of Perth, the North Inch (Why is Perth the smallest city? Because it lies between two Inches.) looked lovely, as indeed did the roads between Perth and Mallaig, from where we caught CalMac’s MV Lord of the Isles yesterday afternoon for a happy, if slightly choppy, return home. And to pretty much the same greens and slightly mucky yellows that we had left behind and which will, presumably, be the same colours for quite a bit longer. They’re welcome too – though I do miss the drama and the beauty of autumn: normally my favourite time of year as nature gets ready for the glories of spring’s new growth by claiming, in an all-consuming bonfire, what has already had its day.