The Week of the Maple Leaves

At the bottom of the road is a japanese maple outside a cottage (Maple Cottage, would you believe?). It is the last tree to change colour, and almost always the last tree to lose its leaves. But there’s a very blustery westerly gale outside, and the leaves are coming off in bucketloads. This weekend I’ll be gathering them to make leafmould for next winter, but for now I’m just marvelling at the difference in my perspective. The garden seems smaller now, and much more exposed – not just to the wind and rain, but to my neighbours and the people using the village hall behind our house. It doesn’t bother me, as my neighbours are nice people, but it’s very different.

The birds seem to feel differently about it too. The great spotted woodpecker which I first saw in the garden a fortnight ago, is much more conspicuous, and as there aren’t so many places to shelter while you’re eyeing up what’s in the feeders, the sparrowhawk has begun to hang about in a meaningful manner. Fortunately our privet hedge is very thick and will keep its leaves over the winter, so the coal tits and sparrows are reasonably safe.

The blustery weather has brought in winter migrants. There was a fieldfare on the birch tree this morning and a flock of waxwings in the trees by the railway station yesterday, noisily finishing off all the cotoneaster berries. I hope they will find enough to keep them going. As far as I can see, only the hawthorn has anything like its usual crop. I can see myself putting out a lot of supplementary food over the winter.

In the human community, my family celebrated the christening of our youngest member, my great-neice Niamh, a very happy occasion which meant that there were more of us in one place than there has been for years. And now I am home, I am going through the submissions for the second issue of Stravaig. They look very promising so far! Submissions have closed and we hope to publish on-line in the new year, so watch this space.

Another space to watch. Art Angel Dundee are holding a fund-raising event this weekend. This is a brilliant project, producing some high class art as well as excellent results for their service users, so please, if you are in the area, pop in and see what’s going on.

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