Year of Grace, Day 33. Autumn’s ephemera

Beauty – nature’s beauty — is truly fleeting. Yesterday’s walk to a friend’s house provided some beauties that won’t be around for long  — the brilliance of an ivy-clad house, baskets of penny bun mushrooms and chanterelles, a single red leaf on a wall, most likely the last one on the vine.

Ivy clad house

This morning I woke to a beautifully flushed sky. There were clouds tinted like the inside of a conch shell.  I was fortunate enough to capture some shots before the camera’s battery needed recharging. Almost immediately the sky turned to lead – the usual colour of an autumn morning — and the pink-orange clouds had vanished. Waking up early on a weekend certainly has its rewards, and this was one of them.  To have seen the ephemeral beauty of this morning’s sky, I am heartily grateful.

Yet one more instance of nature’s beauty, quenched rather tragically, lies outside on the lawn. I haven’t yet gone closer to inspect it, but from the windows of my study I glimpse scattered feathers. It seems as if a poor bird has fallen prey to some predator. The most likely candidate is the neighbour’s fat grey cat that often comes to ingratiate itself by rubbing against M’s leg and trying to charm him into giving it some milk.  I would rather have the engaging visits of the birds than this cat, adorable though he is, and I have not encouraged its attempts to make itself at home. Nevertheless, it persists and comes oftener than I or, more to the point, the birds would like. Doubtless it thinks we will succumb to its charms eventually.  The culprit could also have been one of the foxes often heard calling to each other at night with their curious cough-like barking. I haven’t seen any of them, but M has. And they have left their telltale scent along the hazelnut hedge.

As I write this, a couple of male blackbirds have come to inspect the bird’s remains. I had not thought blackbirds were scavengers. However it turns out they have simply come to have a look — perhaps to check that it is not one of their own, or some bird acquaintance. Perhaps they’ve come to pay their respects, and having done so, they’ve quickly flown off.  Another blackbird, a female this time, came, paused briefly, and off she went. I wonder what could really be going on with these brief visits. Whatever it is, I am thankful to be a privileged witness.  Condensation on the windows of the study shields me from direct view and, thankfully, I can freely watch the birds as they come and go.

Meanwhile the gas fitter, a pleasant young man, has finished his work. I am so grateful to have directly piped gas now.  Cooking with a visible blue flame is such a pleasure for me, and for M as well, as he’s also a cooking enthusiast.  Ahhh… to have properly working kitchen equipment… such a blessing indeed!

For the beauties of nature — fleeting though they are and sometimes tragic — and other, less beautiful though eminently useful, blessings, I am mightily thankful.

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2 thoughts on “Year of Grace, Day 33. Autumn’s ephemera

  1. How high is your bird feeder? My grandmother was constantly in battle with the stray cats in our neighborhood because they would kill our carp and attack the birds. Our bird feeder was sufficiently high so that a cat would have to be in the open and jump up onto the board, giving the birds enough time to fly away. Love your photographs of fall’s bounty. Chantrelle mushrooms unfortunately are too expensive for me to buy here.

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  2. The bird feeders are pretty high up. And also they’re fairly light so they can be hung from rather flimsy branches which would not support a cat :-). As for chanterelles, I’ve stopped eating them, as they are most likely from forests affected by fallout from Chernobyl. I don’t know about the source of the porcini (Steinpilze). I haven’t had any this year. I still think matsutake — the ones I had eaten directly picked from a mountain in Kyoto — are still the best-tasting mushrooms.

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