I was returning home from work along the scenic route, having been tempted by the sunshine to prolong my journey. I followed the path along the river, which was a busy, but pleasant, highway with cyclists, runners and pedestrians, some pausing and taking a slower pace than they might otherwise in cooler weather. The trees overhanging the Thames were illuminated by a rich, warm light and the water sparkled like lights in a Christmas window. Long boughs dipped and swayed. Rowers directed their boats through the water leaving waves that lapped the shore in a gentle rhythm. I looked ahead; the path led through a corridor of different shades of greens and yellows, the trees glowing in the sunshine with all the presence of an opera diva; the stage is theirs at this time of year as particular species give us a brilliant show of colour. Acers, or maples, are wonderful trees for colour in the Autumn, and any walkthrough beech woods will provide a canopy of oranges and yellows.

I lingered momentarily to survey the scene and then turned up the path away from the river. Peeping through the blue diamond fencing were clusters of rose-hips, bold beads of crimson in a green tangle of foliage. Brambles with shrivelled fruit reminded me of the summer’s harvest; foragers had needed to be earlier than usual this year. A  great tit dived in front of me, closely followed by another, and I listened to their call, sheltered from the traffic in this patch of green.

On the other side of the path the blousy white flowers of bindweed decorated the railings of the playing field. If left to its own devices, the weed will have covered these metal bars by the end of the year. I passed holly trees standing tall with bright red berries, perfect for use in decoration in a couple of months time. A little further on and the autumnal colours appeared again in a burst of exuberance. A well-established Virginia creeper had enveloped the railings between two houses, covering the metalwork and adjacent bricks with deep reds and vibrant yellows. I liked the fact that nature had been allowed to run riot in a small way, in this little corner of the city.

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As I crossed the common on the home straight, I paused to look at the trees lit up by the late sunshine. The differing oval-like shapes of oak, silver birch, and many others lent a softness to the scene that contrasted with the rigid lines of the houses I had just passed. Children lingered, using the last hour of daylight, knowing it would soon disappear. At my feet were the first scatterings of this year’s fallen leaves and the mist in the mornings reminds me that the seasons have changed. Summer has bowed out, despite the temperature trying to tell us otherwise. The glorious colours of Autumn brightened my walk home and the slow setting sun provided a fitting finale to a beautiful day.

The next morning, the pavement was covered with a spectrum of colour from the leaves that had blown down overnight. Shades of reds and yellows from a Japanese maple covered the ground so completely that they almost created a tessellation on the tarmac. I found myself peering down to look at the beauty of a single leaf. The heavy rain had turned the leaf-festooned pavement into a slippery route, however, and I trod carefully. A splendid rowan lit up the grey morning with its bright red berries, and its leaves had already formed a pattern on the pavement. I am lucky to live in an area where trees grow on residential streets and I took extra notice of them on this blustery Autumnal day.

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Written by James Common

Naturalist and nature writer from North-East England, forever learning. Common By Nature is maintained as an outlet for opinion and personal musings associated with the natural world, and as a journal detailing my exploits in the great outdoors. Enjoy!

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