This is the kind of post that calls for a photograph, but the fact is that we drove from Dunbar to Elgin last weekend and didn’t stop for photography – it was too wet in any case. But the autumn colours this year were more brilliant than I can ever recall seeing them. Of course, Scotland isn’t New England, so we didn’t have the reds of the maples, but we had so many other colours that at times my eyes felt drunk. And not just the colours, but the textures, so varied and so characteristic. The brilliant golds of two kinds of birch – the pendulous one that looks like Japan feels, and the more compact form of the other species (hirsuta), flamed in stands by the roadside. The bronzy notes of beeches, reaching out branches like fingers, making a warm tunnel of the road, or standing majestically in the Beech Hedge at Meikleour. And I remember, in the section of road just before Braemar, seeing the gold pillars of larch shining out in the depths of the surrounding dark pines. Utterly beautiful; superlatives just couldn’t do it justice.
Then, on our last day, before the journey home, we went to Findhorn, and found the wonderful little garden outside the cafe. It had all four of the elements you expect to find in a Chinese garden – rocks, plants, buildings and water. The rocks were big, bold and hard – mostly Cullen Quartzite. The cafe building is wood and glass, light and airy. The plants too seemed chosen for their sculptural qualities rather than colour – very few flowers, but small pines, shrubs – horizontals and verticals. I spent some time in contemplation there, ignoring the noise of a Nimrod taking off from the Kinloss neighbours. So much beauty.
PS: The poem’s now written, and later I’ll post some of the Moray photos, but none of them are of Autumn colours.