Mindfulness of Nature

Reflecting on autumn light


Autumn leaves

A new season is upon us – have you noticed? Yes, Autumn is here! Have you been outside to see what it’s like? What have you seen and heard? How does autumn make you feel?

Last week-end I was in Kent with my family. When I woke up on Sunday morning, the first thing I did was to look out of the bedroom window. It was one of those dull, blustery, grey autumn days. One of those mornings that make you nostalgically look back on the long and bright summer days. One of those days that makes you want to stay indoors curled up with a film or a book. I became aware of myself thinking “I don’t like the autumn. Ugh, these shorter, darker, colder days. I wish it were still summer!”. Sound familiar?

Clearly, my mind was not in a good mood but I took the decision not to pay it too much attention. Even on a windy, grey autumn day, it is always good to get some fresh air! So I put some warm clothes on, and my family and I drove to the coast for some birdwatching.

We spent the morning walking along a coastal path, stopping along the way to look through our binoculars across the mudflats. Large numbers of curlews had gathered to feed on worms, crabs and molluscs. We spotted turnstones, shelducks and little egrets. We saw a marsh harrier chasing a female peregrine falcon off its patch. Some of these birds, such as the curlews, had returned to this bay for the winter. Seasonal change, constant movement, and a sense of wilderness were almost tangible in the gusty wind. A feeling of excitement about what we may come across crept up on me, and started to dissolve my gloomy, nostalgic morning thoughts.

Simultaneously, whilst my family and I were distracted by our feathered friends, the grey clouds had begun to disappear and the wind had subsided. We were delighted to see the sun beginning to shine. Within minutes, we were gifted with a truly magical sight.


Pegwell bay, Kent

That golden, luminescent autumnal sunlight began to light up the bay. The trees along the path turned to a glorious display of yellow, amber, green, orange and red. Some of the red leaves appeared to be positively glowing, so luminous that they seemed surreal. Their brilliant, mature, blushing colour was so enchanting it was difficult to take my eyes off them!  The orange berries on the bushes turned practically fluorescent. The shining white cliffs at the edge of the bay matched the clean white gulls soaring above us in the clear and radiant light.The sky turned to an intensely fresh blue that was so exquisite I could almost taste it. I practically felt compelled to immerse myself in it, similarly to how I feel about the ocean in the summer.

The change in the landscape was unbelievably stark. This characteristically low seasonal light had instantly transformed the dull, cold, grey autumn morning into a sumptuous spectacle of vivid, exuberant and flamboyant colours. My mood effortlessly followed suit: I felt uplifted.

Personally, it always takes me a while to accept the arrival of autumn. Leaving the summer days behind can be quite difficult! However, it is worth letting go of the negative stories your mind may throw at you when it feels the darker days approaching…  Get some warm clothes on and head outside, you never know what the natural world may have in store for you!

As we drove home that evening at 5 pm, it was already dark. And before my mind even had the chance to dwell on the shortening of the days, I brought to mind that gorgeous warm light over the bay, and that wonderful blue sky which the sunshine had gifted us with. I smiled. I felt very lucky to have been part of such a beautiful afternoon with my family.

How do you feel when autumn arrives? What do you like and dislike about this season? What do you notice the most? I would love to hear your comments, thoughts, experiences here – or contact me directly!




One thought on “Reflecting on autumn light

  1. Christopher Stokes

    I couldn’t agree more that, after the joys of summer, autumn’s arrival may disappoint. I’m thinking particularly of autumn days which are cold, damp and – after the clocks have gone back – dark by teatime. Yet a symphony of autumn foliage may surely warm the heaviest heart, and it’s worth remembering that without autumn, there would be no spring. Songs of spring are sung because of the barrenness before.

    Each time I reach for my copy of your book Mindfulness & the Natural World, I’m struck by your ability to describe vividly the sights and sounds of nature which delight you. In this post you write evocatively of golden luminescent sunlight and the florescence of orange berries, and I especially like your choice of the word ‘dissolve’ to express the effect of mindfulness of nature on gloomy thoughts. This is precisely my experience, and your book is encouraging me to discover that sitting outdoors is not only a pleasure in spring and summer but in less hospitable conditions too.

    Transience is part of the beauty of nature, outdoors is always better than indoors, and all we need is to wrap up well. Alfred Wainwright, legendary chronicler of the Lakeland Fells, put this pithily: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.’

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