Light and Dark

Pastel sky. Hues of soft pink, mauve and blue. A gaze-misting haze gently draped as very fine silk above the land and sea.

A fire-ball sun has barely broken the horizon and yet the humid heat prickles the skin and dampens the brow.

As I walk, the ends of my blue cotton trousers are dark and heavy with dew collected from the long grasses and rusting bracken. Autumn glows from every view and despite the growing heat, pockets of chilly air hang in sunken mist, allowing brief moments of cool relief.

Deep rich colours light the world in every tone you could wish for, a joy to the eye. Silver-spun threads, rich, crisping russet undergrowth, ripe apples and lush greens.

The overriding sound is the bird call. An orchestra of chatters, clicks, cheeps and chirps. Swallow swoop and swirl, practicing their flight for the long journey that beckons. My eyes are entertained by their dark silhouettes, and the tiny flicks and darts of other wings, birds, moths and insects, each one surrounded by the halo glow of sunrise.

The book I am absorbed by at the moment is Underland by Robert Macfarlane, an exploration of the Earth's underworlds. In his adventures below the land's surface as we understand it, he discovers deeply dark places. He writes

" Knowing for those few moments that to understand light you need first to have been buried in the deep-down dark."

I have no intention of ever going caving, the mere thought of those dark, airless spaces sends my pulse racing, breath quickening. But it seems so fitting at this time of year, and in the global circumstances we all find ourselves struggling with, that there are periods of light and periods of dark, and we can not have one without the other. The curling, drying leaves on the sycamore tree, the one Clemmie planted in remembrance of her dead family, remind me of the passing of one season and the approach of the next. Autumn is a preparation of winter, of going back into oneself, as the tree holds its energy within, so should we. Allowing time for reflection of the busy summer just gone and appreciation of a quieter, more gentle time before the darkness of winter arrives.

So the light of autumn is vital, a thing to be enjoyed and savoured whilst it is here.

The sea of course holds such beautiful colour and light and the water is at its warmest, so it is with utter pleasure that I sink into the silently calm waters of Great Par.

Each ripple a tiny flutter of shimmering light, translucent and captivating. I am warm, too warm, after a mornings work, so the silky cool water is a relief as I sink my shoulders under and swim out into the bay. Clear, fresh brine douses my nostrils as I dive under, blowing out silver bubbles into the turquoise shallows.

Last week I swam within an ocean of Salp. Tiny, pulsing, jet propelled creatures, feeding on plankton. Wonders of neon delight, their rope-light displays lighting the sea in purple and pink and silver. Not a Salp insight today though. Only a young cormorant, whose complete lack of interest in me meant that I could swim so close as to clearly admire the beady eye, ochre shading around the beak, the slick black oil-like back and grey silver-sleek of underbelly that catches the sun like the glimmer of a mackerel.

Back on the shoreline, still trying to hold within me each and every ray of light, every colour, I spot a mussel shell, open, heart-like, a zing of silver-blue against the sand.

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