MY AUTUMN COLLECTION
Like everyone else in South Africa, my Coronavirus lockdown arrived in the early part of autumn on the 26th March 2020, just as the leaves began their transient journey into foddering the mother tree.
I, like anyone over the age of sixty was immediately put under quarantine. My other half banned me from driving and took away the car keys. Umph. A liberated jail, as some would say when you compare my lockdown with a real prison.
Others would say I was lucky, as over 80% of the world population in western countries live in a city. Yes, in that sense I am lucky. I am not bound in by 4 brick walls, forced to sing arias, tap-dance on a balcony to entertain myself, or my neighbours. My walls are trees, bushes, birds, putting out the nightly water bowl for the visiting variety frogs and toads; breathtaking views of mountains and valleys, darting Duiker’s and cheeky Mongoose who love to tease our dogs when a wall separates them.
Looking at the media I saw lonely empty city streets. Closed doors. Faces peering through misted windows. Rabbits caught in a mousetrap, in their own cage, wishing, wondering, Oh, such subdued lonely faces, staring in silence, pining for their past life.
In my environment, the Elgin Valley, autumn had begun. The deciduous trees were starting to shut up shop for the winter.
These transitory trees had spent the summer fuelling themselves with energy from the sun, which they use to make sugar and other compounds they can hold in reserve throughout the cold season. The trees store their goodies in their roots and under their skin, just like squirrels, hedgehogs, queen bees, bats and bears. But in their case, under the bark.
As each autumn day passed by, I watched the leaves wafting down. Green foliage that was graduating to yellow. Some turned to red; others blue and purple before finally succumbing to beige, brown and finally black before turning into nourishing gooey humus.
The autumn colour variations are different from tree to tree. Poplars changed from green to yellow to deep purple. Sycamore’s which include London Plain trees went from green to orange and beige before turning to blue, lavender and purple. Chestnut trees went from green, to beige and yellow, before turning orange and brown.
I watched the leaves falling. Some gyrate – Elvis the pelvis until they hit the ground. Helped by the wind, others oscillate; backwards and forwards like a pendulum until a bump in the air changes their sense of direction. Smaller leaves like the dainty Crab Apple leaf liked to pirouette — spinning and spinning until a jolt from a branch or a jar from mother earth tells them to keep still and just accept what is inevitable.
Needless to say my curiosity was aroused. Walking amongst the swishing leaves, I studied their shapes. The dogs followed curious. Being with short attention spans they were soon rolling in the mounds of leaves collected by our gardener for the compost heap; but soon bored preferring to chase shadows of passing birds.
Some autumn leaves poked fun at me. Many danced a ritual to the wind. Others, jingled-belled. I was presented with an Autumn Bouquet for being inquisitive — and an Autumn Umbrella for the rainy days ahead. A gentle wind came by with an Autumn Hurdler. And an Autumn Ninja showed me how to kick-box. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I know. My legs ain’t what they use to be. I’ll probably only get up to the first branch of the lemon tree.
So, rather than let the leaves fade away and rot into humus, I captured them, never to be forgotten, for I knew autumn only comes once a year, and besides, kick-boxing, Ninja leaves only come once in a lifetime as did the Coronavirus in my lifetime
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