Country diary: signs of autumn fill the senses

Little Casterton, Rutland: A brilliant production ushers in the darker months, fungi are everywhere and trees form hard shadows in the sky

For a couple of days each year, the textures of change in this little nook of Rutland are palpable. The greens of summer are still the foundations, in the grass, in the moss and in the reeds of the little stream. But here as well are the signals of autumn. The tree line has lost its anonymity; instead, a scattergun of pomp picks out the exhibitionists: acid green, red and burnt gold adding briefly brilliant flamboyance. Lone trees, old oaks mainly, are thinning, revealing the bones beneath.

Trees always look older in the first weeks of autumn; the light sits lower, making hard shadows across the lines and gouges, lighting the relief with a crisp warmth at odds with the sudden bite in the air. Fungi are everywhere. I bend to examine a stand of mushrooms, noticing they all have inky darkenings spread to the same angle of their caps, to the east. Probably coincidence, but anything clock-like feeds a preoccupation with time at this hour of the year.

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