Autumn reflection (Dog Paddling in Sheep Soup)

There’s a lot of prosy autumnal stuff floating around t’interweb. Snippets of ochre gush about leaves and colour and such. And I’m as guilty as any doodling amateur scribe. Latching onto the mood of the moment. The richness of the season.


Any hoo. Today is Thursday. It’s mid September (careful) and tomorrow is Friday.

As I get older, my memories of childhood become more vivid. The veil of time is lifting and sweet childlike moments of innocence and wonder pop into my mind.


It’s pretty cool. All the faces I knew when I was growing up are suddenly quite alive. Standing beside me. Tutting or cooing. Chasing me. Nipping. Kissing.

Pearls of wisdom and nuggets of madness from faces I’d forgotten. Most of them dead. Rat fodder.

As a child, my siblings and cousins and I had the run of an enchanted glen. We lived our summers at my maternal grandmother’s farm. Perched on the side of Slieve Gallion, in the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains. It was called Carndaisy Glen.

The Glen was our playground. A beautiful secret. Our Narnia. Streams and waterfalls and deep pools to swim in during the long never ending days of summer. Once we found a dead sheep half submerged upstream above the largest waterfall that filled our favourite pool. We imagined we were dog paddling in sheep soup.

The water was freezing.

I knew every trail. Where it led. Where it came from. And every rock and tree root. Every muddy bank. Every nook and cranny. Everywhere treasure was hidden. Marked on our club map.

Before setting off, we would gather round my granny in the old scullery and top up with banana sandwiches and glass bottles of milk and tip toe through the cobbled farmyard, shooing geese and ducks and avoiding the piles of cow shit. We were the famous eleven. Or so. Numbers varied.

Then skipping down the gravel drive, away from the farmhouse to disappear into birch and beech and sycamore, carving through fern fronds and brambles like mini Doctor Livingstones. Eager and afraid. Excited and giddy. Intrepid explorers. Pioneers.

We owned this place!

Fridays now mean feet up, telly on and Friday Phrases with a glass of wine and a bowl of nuts. Fridays then, meant out of school and restless sleeps and a promise of a Saturday morning bus ride to the Glen. And adventure.

My favourite time of year was autumn. The Glen was deciduous woodland and from late August to October, the wind whistled and tugged reluctant brown and yellow and red and gold leaves to fall and carpet the woodland floor. When it rained, the banks became a sloppy, slippy mess of spent chlorophyll.

We slid from top to bottom on bits of old car bonnets. (My uncles used to drive them over the edge to rumble to the Glen floor when they broke down. Carefree with the farm insurance.)

We sat in those old cars Vroom! Vroom! and drove for miles and miles in our tireless imaginations. Each taking turn to steer and toot.

We were a band of cousins.

When it rained, the autumn rain came suddenly. Out of nowhere. Soft warm moist air drawn up the side of the mountain slipped on tree canopies and dripped to soak us through as we played beneath.

I’ve been back to the Glen many times. In spring to photograph the daffodils in February and the bluebells in April. Carpets of yellow and blue drifting into the distance.

Running like shoals of sardines in a sea of trees.

But most of all I like to photograph the autumn carnival. Nature’s carnival. A riot of shimmering colour as mother nature strips and beds down to sleep through winter.

And yes. There is a lot of prosy autumnal stuff floating around t’interweb. That is good.

Autumn is a special time. It brings back my special memories.

Perhaps this introspection is because I’m in the Autumn of my own life.

But. All life ends sometime. Only then can we look forward to Spring and renewal. The cycle of life. Or not. I’m unsure. My spiritual jury is out on this one.

I’ll surely write about the Glen again as my memories magically reappear before they finally disappear into the fog of old age. Memories of happy times. A carefree childlike world.

And the spiritual arrival of autumn.

3 thoughts on “Autumn reflection (Dog Paddling in Sheep Soup)

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