Monday morning.   It is chill as I take Daisy for her walk.   There is cold in the air which pulls at my fingers and the trees move under a brisk breeze.  The land lies under a fine mist which blurs the landscape.

We walk through the lower field.   The sheep seem used to us now and although they gather together to watch our progress they seem to understand now there is nothing to fear from us.

The smell of wood smoke hangs over the woodland.    The owner of the large house, through whose grounds the footpath runs, has been burning garden waste.    I breathe it in.   I love the smell of it.   To me it defines this time of year and the  run up to Yule and the turn of the year.   

The main field is empty today, the cattle have been moved to different pasture, and so we make our way along the path that bisects the field.   

It is odd to see the trees from this angle.  Ordinarily I am amongst them so the change in their colour is perceived differently, as is their place in the landscape.      Walking amongst them is like moving through a confusing kaleidoscope of colour, the patterns shifting and blurring.    Now, from this vantage point, I can see how the colours meld together.   I feel as though I am walking around the edge of a painting, a soft focus watercolour by an old master.    It is a rural idyll, run slightly to madness, but nonetheless very beautiful.  

We pause as usual at the beech tree.     The beech leaves are thick on the ground, brittle, amber curls.   Beneath, I can just make out the open mouths of discarded beech mast like gasping fish in a shallow pond.    

The Dita von Teese tree has been transformed from a burlesque beauty.  Now she is Salome waiting to cast off her final veil of yellow leaves.    When they are gone she will be Monroe, wearing only a smile and a dab of Chanel.

The weather-vane fox runs determinedly to the south east.   There is no rest for this burnished creature, forever busy, she pursues the wind where ever it may lead her.   I cannot begin to guess how long this cunning vixen has been there, atop the stable block, but she never tires, never takes food or shelter and from her place in the clouds she sees everything.  

Beneath the fox I notice for the first time a tree which is the most extraordinary shade of red.    I decide we must explore and Daisy and I make our way across the field.     Daisy is taken by the teasing, glossy black crows that glide across our path.        

As we get closer I notice that this small tree, pressed close against the stone wall of the enclosed garden, is standing in a deep litter of blood-red leaves.   It looks as though it is haemorrhaging.    It is an amazing sight.      Daisy and I take it all in and then move on slowly homewards.     

As we walk on I realise that there is no sound of gunfire today, no noise of helicopters buzzing overhead.     The Army is strangely quiet.    It is odd not to hear their sound.  

What I can hear is the thin, distant sound of the children in the playground of the small primary school in a nearby village.     They are screaming and shouting, running around and enjoying their play time.   It is a happy sound. I think of the games of British Bull Dog and Farmer Wants a Wife that I played as a child and wonder if they play the same such games these days.     

We step on to the footpath that will lead us finally home.   Daisy put her nose to the ground and breathes in the smells of rabbits and squirrels.    We pass the fallen Elder and home is in sight.    

In the garden the copper tree is very threadbare now.  It is almost entirely bereft of leaves.   Those that cling on have lost their purple glossiness and are now a faded dry and dessicated amber.  

The other small tree in our garden, the remainder tree, which stayed so determinedly green whilst everything around it was changing colour, is now a buttery yellow gold.    I have no idea what sort of tree this is either.     I know it is a remnant of a much larger tree, only the stump of which remains, and has long oval leaves which drip from its thin branches.   It will, I suspect, eventually turn a glorious shade of wine red.   I cannot wait to see it.

I make tea and toast and Daisy and I snuggle on the sofa a welcome break before I begin my daily chores.   

I watch the wild birds in the garden feeding on the wild bird seed and peanuts that my husband put out for them.      There is a large, fat robin, all territorial and bristling but beaten by the sheer weight of numbers of great tit and chaffinch who wish to dine here, his hegemony is thwarted.    He is well and truly routed and must share…….or go without!

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