Can you recall a late November when the autumnal leaf colours on our trees were more delightful? Not much sunshine to enhance the splendour it was true, but a wet October seemed to encourage a lingering of foliage and eye catching variegations they most certainly were. The fact that such beauty will soon be converted into the labour of trying to dispose of seemingly endless carpets of fallen leaves hardly enters one's head. And who does not secretly enjoy, anyway, kicking along through the drifts of dead leaves on a walk? The roadside by the green in Earl Soham was ankle deep in chestnut leaves much to the delight of the children as they walked home from school. There are some forty different varieties of deciduous trees within the United Kingdom. In our three parishes there can be seen growing at least 32 of these excluding the dead elms. At this time of year especially, leafless trees provide much food in the crevices of the bark for the birds not least the dead elms where woodpeckers can probe away using their long beaks. A more delicate food search can be witnessed in the higher branches of willow trees where long tailed tits ceaselessly twitter away, never still from dawn to dusk.
This Christmas month, in spite of the traditional card portrayal of snowy scenes, to the contrary, is quite likely to offer us dull skies and damp mild days. In some respects, however, the artists get it right. The perky robin - no Christmas card seems to be without one - will be seen and heard, a constant companion for us in the garden. The hedgerows are still providing hips and haws as well as buckthorn and blackthorn berries. However, unaware of mankind’s celebrations, the natural world is largely dormant. The great celebration and awakening called springtime, remains in the wings awaiting the cue of warmer lighter days, to take centre stage.