The falling leaves
Drift by the window
The autumn leaves
Of red and gold
sung by Eva Cassidy on Songbird
I’m waiting for one of the allotmenteers, the autumn season has crept in and it’s the night before the harvest moon, the closest full moon to the autumn equinox.
The crops are definitely changing as I look around in the dimming glow from the setting sun. Beans are picked, melons worried over, when to pick them and ripen at home, raspberries now just a ‘pick and eat one’ crop.
As we walk around we see a large casualty, a tree from a neighbouring garden to the allotments has fallen onto a plot, pushed its way over the boundary with ease and crushing a shed, but leaving the greenhouse intact - just beyond its reach. Thankfully no one was there when it happened, so no injuries to people, but it still looks devastating to plants and property. A mess of tangled roots and ivy causing chaos to a well ordered space. I haven’t met these plot owners and so have no images of how it looked before, I feel for them, this must be heartbreaking. I only draw on plots where I have being given permission to be.
The temperature drops and layers of clothing are added, scarf, gloves but I’ve forgotten a hat and I notice, as the beautiful clear sky brings cold with it. As we walk around the paths our eyes adjust to the light that is available, it’s a different feeling at dusk and night here, the balance of sound changes, rustles in the undergrowth are more important than a bang in the distance. The uneven ground proves challenging and has to be respected and traversed slowly. But we’re too early to appreciate the rising moon, it’s just not high enough yet. Hunger and cold set it and we head off to warm up, as I walk in to a warm flat, there’s leek and potato soup heating up on the cooker, both the leeks and potatoes gifts from the allotments.
Tomorrow I’ll return, later in the evening and with more layers, although this time alone.
24th September 9pm
I return, dressed up in layers and layers of clothes, but ironically it feels slightly warmer this evening. The moon is shining very brightly. Harvest Moons are supposed to glow more orange but this one seemed pretty white to me. As I set up my camera I’m getting used to the sounds and tell myself not to be scared or alarmed at noises, just walk round confidently. It’s not long before I am able to tread fearlessly as I can see so much just by the light of tonight’s moon.
I’m surprised that the camera without a flash manages to take any images, but there’s certainly enough moon from the light to make out silhouettes.
I also use a flash, but even that’s a challenge as I can’t really see what I’m going to take the photo off beforehand so I set things up and add some hope. The dark ominous backgrounds are quite exciting, once I’ve taken a shot I let my eyes adjust and carry on walking around. I’m sticking to the main paths but it’s not so easy to make out which plot is which as they line up on either side of me with the distinctions lost in the darkness...
Although I could stay much longer, I finally pack up at 11:30pm, the experience of staying quietly in the allotments during the harvest moon is rather moving and my writing is much more that of a personal diary than a blog notebook.
Wind slides across the leaves and through the trees, it’s an impetus wind; one full of speed, elbowing its way through anything in its path, swaying the branches of the large poplar trees to the side of the plots. Glints of gold dot their way through the trees, the peach tree near to me has yellow droplets of leaves that hold on against the wind’s better judgment, but I am aware these will soon fall. Autumn is just a few days in, fatigue shows on the summer glory of the plots. A slower pace, that of autumnal growing creeps over the crops. A blanket of calm slides its way through.
S2 has dropped in to pick some crops, amazing peppers, chillis, beans and tomatoes nestle in a blue crate that sets the colours off, subtly fighting for position.
As I wander around I spot melons hanging in nets in greenhouses, suddenly there’s a dash of wind and the leaves noisily and angrily respond to being pulled and pushed around. Then it’s gone, passed, and bird song trickles through the vacant space. I need to find someone who can help me identify bird song.
The vegetable leaves are showing their age, some appear to have dipped their edges into light green or yellow ink, sweetcorn tops have turned to beige, trying to quietly blend into the background having used all their energy to show off in summer.
I drop into the allotments on my way somewhere. It’s drizzling so I set myself up to think on a bench under a large umbrella. I don’t mind drizzle, in fact I really enjoy being outside in drizzle, it’s partly the returning to a warm dry home that holds appeal and also listening to the sound of rain on the umbrella. From the bench seat I can watch bugs and insects hiding and scurrying around under leaves. Nothing appears to be happening on the surface but so much life is crawling and slithering around on and in the top layer of earth.
Saturday and I’m ready to go to the allotments and draw, which I do, but it’s raining, very hard and it is also rather windy. The combination of the two is pretty unworkable. I could hunker down under an umbrella - if there’s room between plants but the wind will whip the raindrops onto my sketch regardless. There’s not a lot I can do and I only have a couple of hours spare. But the colours with the rain are intense I can’t just walk away.
There’s no let up and it doesn’t look as though it’s going to ease up. Still, I am determined to work with the weather not against it. I concentrate on the smell of the newly watered ground, how different this is to summer’s heat. And sounds, dripping, water pooling in the middle of leaves, wobbling around in the centre of a nasturtium leaf. Clinging onto the bottom of a dahlia and sweetpea flower, it holds on, moving with the wind, as though building up courage to drop… and disappear. For a moment the light holds this fragile raindrop and all my focus is held here.
In the meantime I pick up discarded leaves to draw in the studio. October is always a busy time for me so I will need to draw images in my studio. As it’s Inktober on social media where many artists take to the web with ink sketches, I will focus mine on things found and seen at the allotment. And I decide they will all be small drawings, no larger than 3.5” or 9cm, although most will be smaller.