Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer

robin in birch tree

The Opening of Autumn

robin in birch tree

This robin is very noisy these days, claiming the right to first dibs on anything I turn up as I clear the garden of all the spent flowers and dying foliage. There is a lot of tidying to be done, as I just threw a lot of annual seeds at one of the beds and stood back. I can’t recommend this – the erratic weather meant that things were late, slow or overcrowded, and I’m going to be much more thoughtful next year! But the robin is making the most of it, diving between my feet as I turn the soils over, almost tripping me up as I go to the compost heap, warning off the blackbirds snaffling the last of the rowan berries.

The garden is very birdy, so long as I stay still. Longtailed tits are working the cypress cones in the garden next door, and the coal tits and blue tits are dodging the chaffinches at the birds feeder. The sparrows are coming back to the garden, now that the fields have been ploughed and sown for next year, and the first wood pigeons have noticed the spilled grain, and are patrolling the lawn for maize seeds.

The geese are back in large numbers, and I’m trying to get photos of the long skeins as they unravel across the sky.

skein of geese

The arrival of these travellers reminds me that in a tree-dominated landscape like the village, autumn is not a time when the world begins shutting down – leaf-fall means it opens up, we can see out further towards the hills, the castle, the refineries at Grangemouth.

I was reminded, when I typed this of a poem in my River Calendar sequence, in The Territory of Rain, so here it is:

Wind Changing

A north-east wind rises, bringing with it
the rattle like promised rain of dry
birch leaves along the dusty pavement.
At night, ripe rain breaks like a wave
on the weathered shore of our slates.
Roof-beams creak and settle in their berths.
The crowded leaves of ash and beech disperse.
Light pours through rents in the orchard.
The world outside opens, comes closer.

ash leaves and seeds






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