I was feeling quite gloomy this morning but taking Daisy for her daily walk in the bracing autumn air has refreshed me and my mood has now lightened considerably .     Just getting outside, feeling the wind in my face has cleared out all those dark cobwebs.

We make our usual circuit but, because of the wind rushing through the trees, the nip in the air that makes my fingers retreat inside the arms of my jumper and the layer of dessicating amber leaves on the floor, it all feels very different today.  

Daisy loves it.   She always loves it when its windy, it makes her skittish and puppyish.   She charges about chasing leaves, sniffs the air and pursues the scent of those wise and absent rabbits who hear her coming and disappear back down into their burrows to wait until she has passed.

We sit on the beech tree root for our usual five minute sojourn and watch the wind tearing through the trees.      My attention is caught by a small acer right at the end of an elongated triangle of enclosed woodland.     I have noticed this tree before.     

When I first saw her she was a very bright,  lime green with  paw-print leaves similar to those of the copper tree but slightly finer and more delicate.

As time  passed and the season advanced into autumn this small tree developed a single patch of bright red leaves high up in her canopy.   She looked like an arboreal Billie Holliday, effortlessly glamorous, dressed to kill, a red flower tucked behind her ear.    

Later as she inevitably began to lose some of that vibrant bloom she started to resemble a blowsy, vintage barmaid with an updo, red flower tucked behind her ear, in an old spit and sawdust pub from some film classic like Brief Encounter.    The sort of barmaid who always talked hard but had a heart of gold.

Now, as I watch her the tree is virtually naked, stripped of her fading lime coloured leaves.  The red leaves, however, cling steadfastly on.  She looks a little like a stripper now who, in a deliciously carefree Dita von Teese moment, has cast off her clothing and stands in all her single glory, red flower tucked behind her ear.    She stands next to a thin, death rattle dry, birch tree who clings like a disapproving dowager to the remnants of her foliage.    I can’t help but think  she does not care much for her uninhibited neighbour.  Me?   Well, I like her a lot!   It is a lovely piece of autumn theatre.

We move on and take the lower path.    I scuff my feet through the layer of leaves that cover the footpath and find some sweet chestnuts which have fallen.     The spiny casements contain ripe, but very small, chestnuts which I am sure any passing mouse would relish making a gourmet meal of.        

There is a horse chestnut nearby who has cast off a thick sprinkling of  conkers which lie glossy and red at her feet.       I pick a few up and put them in my pocket, I don’t seem able to resist them ever, and throw some of the others across the small stream into the wide hedgerow.     As the wind circles again and sweeps through the wood I find myself cowering under a deluge of falling conker pods which hit the ground with a viscious thud and split open revealing the glossy seeds within.   

This tree is far more subtle in her bombardment than the Army who are practising on Salisbury Plain.   The sound of their guns has accompanied most of my walk  this morning.     As bombardments go, I know which one I would rather have!

On through the lower field and Daisy and I find ourselves in the company of a small herd of sheep.    They see us and quickly make their way into the relative gloom of a large tree and stand watching us diligently from the shadows.    It is a good job Daisy is on her lead.   She stands on her back legs to get a better view of them and they eye her warily at a distance.    She continues, dancing up the path, on her back legs whirling around like a circus act until she tires of them and turns her nose to the hollow chestnut tree and the possibility of rabbits…..