Autumn Forest MOMENTs (Five Minute Friday)

Sorry for the hiatus in posts – I’ve been away. But I’m really glad to back with the great Five Minute Friday community and you’ll see I have still been writing: this week’s response to the prompt word is a series of extracts from the observations I kept. It’s amazing the amount of absorbing detail in one simple view.

On the evening of our arrival, I walked out onto the deck to look at the view. Once again, we back onto the forest but there’s only a limited view because of the darkness. Instead there’s a wall of silver birches dancing to the wind’s command, flouncing their skirts to their own tarantella, trunks bending Spanish style in a paso doble. Even the rustle of leaves sound like a thousand castanets. There’s very little ‘fall’ here yet. The birches are still mainly green with a few golden highlights against the darkness of the increasingly early nights.

In the morning it’s all change. Same trees, same shapes, but only a breeze and suffused with golden sunrise. The white trunks shine and tall pines are revealed behind. As I look around, I notice the variety in colour of tree trunks – even the pines vary: few are the traditional brown of a child’s drawing; they are deep bronze red and silvered lilac and all shades in between, depending on how the light catches them.

Today I’m awake first. So I’ve found my usual morning place of the deck.
At first, it’s the palpable sense of stillness and silence that surrounds and holds me like the cold air itself. (Maybe there’s a word for this crispness). The trees in front of me are completely unmoving. It’s as if the air is too cold or not awake enough to produce even the slightest breeze. My breath floats gently away from me like a wispy cloud.
But it’s deceptive this stillness and silence.
And there is movement. Two squirrels scurrying and leaping along the bouncing branches, shaking the very tree tops in their hurry. Or if I look very closely, at the very edge of a couple of frond-like twigs, hanging over a natural entrance to the forest, the end few finger leaves are swaying just the slightest. So the air must be moving. In fact, when I exhale, my mist breath always drifts off to my right not straight upwards.

It’s grey when I wake up. At first, I think the drops on the outside table are dew again but when I step out from under the overhanging roof, I realise it’s raining. At first it just seems like a damp freshness in the air but then I hear the percussion – mainly tings on the metal barbecue. Strange how I can hear the rain more easily than see it – the drops must be very fine. But even in the grey and rain, the gold of the changing silver birches glows with light, as if they have a secret inner source, although it’s actually low sunlight still getting through.

It rains most of the day so I retreat to my cosy corner at the kitchen table with its view over the deck to the forest.
The leaves on the silver birches, especially the one directly in front, which I’m starting to think of as ours, are becoming more and more yellow instead of green. Some are speckling brown. In the high wind, many are torn off violently and thrown away.

Inside again this morning before we go out for the day, the weather dark and blowy outside. No golden morning light today. But I notice an almost transparent insect climbing up the window beside me. Its wings are like delicate glass with subtle veining like leaves and its body a pale lime green, like some kind of elongated greenfly. It’s beautiful. When I realise it’s on the inside, I get a jug and some paper to gently trap it and then release it outside, back where it belongs.

Our last full day and I haven’t been writing every day because, well that doesn’t matter.
But what a change in the scenery outside: we’ve watched the autumn take hold. The silver birches are now more gold than green, their leaves increasingly sparse as they’ve surrendered them to the wind and the ground. They remind me of humans with our hair going grey and falling out as we age too.


SHARE the Love (Five Minute Friday)

My mum bought me a book as a present out of the blue once. It was called ‘The Five Love Languages’. I cringed a bit at the title, if I’m honest, but I read it all the same.

Its premise was that there are four basic ways of communicating love but that each of us is only proficient in one or two. Problems can arise in relationships when we don’t speak the same language, so we can end up thinking we’re not loved because we don’t ‘hear’ their method of communication. Or we can feel frustrated when our expressions of affection don’t ‘translate’ for them.

My beloved and I are a classic combination of opposite ‘love languages’. Just as he had a natural flair for German at school whereas I found French came much more naturally, so his communication styles tend to be service and gifts, whereas mine are words and physical contact.

So he buys me flowers because it would have been my late dad’s birthday or just because he hasn’t bought me any for a while and wants me to know I’m appreciated. He diligently keeps our finances in order, empties the dishwasher, and is quick to offer lifts to our boys no matter how far or what changes it might mean to his own plans.

I, on the other hand, can’t let any of men leave the house without a goodbye kiss or go to bed without a goodnight hug. I make a point of frequently saying to them, out loud or via text, how much I love them and am proud of them.

What we have had to learn though is to become multilingual – to recognise each other’s prime language and remember to translate, and to learn to speak it ourselves. So he will give me a cuddle because he knows it makes me feel reassured and I will make sure all his shirts are laundered so he will start the day knowing he is cared for.

And I guess that’s the point for all of us who want to show any kind of love to others, our own or God’s: it’s no good just spouting away in our own language, repeating the same words ever more slowly and loudly like an ignorant and arrogant Englishman abroad – we simply won’t be understood. We all need to become linguists if we want others to know their true worth.

After all, wasn’t that exactly what God did when ‘the Word became flesh’?