fly agaric / Richard Cobden
People and Wildlife Officer Seven Sisters Country Park
November is: wild blustery days when the trees seem to lift their roots and sway like sail boats washed far out to sea while their leaves take to the sky in a mad Dervish dance swirling beneath heavy, grey skies laden with rain.
November is: cold, clear, crisp mornings, fields glazed with frost, hedgerows draped in rose hips hanging motionless in the breathless early morning light and glistening spiders’ webs woven through tall, stiff arms of yellow grass and laced around the prickly seeds of teasels and umbrella heads of hogweed.
November is: fireworks, noise, and clear silent skies, with tiny points of stars etched above our heads on the dark canvas of the sky.
November is: the call of tawny owls breaking through the hushed dark of the woods.
November is: squirrels scurrying across carpets of fallen leaves and moving through the branches carrying the last of their winter larder between their teeth like thieves running from a crime scene.
November is: amazing sunsets when the west catches fire and tongues of red, scarlet, pink, crimson, and orange hang in the still, clear sky above the lip of the hills and wait for the darkening clouds of night.
November is: noisy, squabbling rooks, lifting and falling on the wind above their winter roosts.
November is: deserted beaches, branches of bleached dried sea kale pods tumbling across the shingle on the back of the wind, empty slipper limpet shells, dark, weathered mermaid’s purses, white, mini surf board cuttlefish, rubbish, plastic, rope, wood, spewed up by the sea, tossed by the waves onto the beach, and left behind, forgotten along the strandline, black backed gulls, calling across the wind, lifting and falling above the crest of the waves, oyster catchers, wheeling and turning at the edge of the water.
November is: the smell of rotting, damp leaves beneath beech trees, clumps of black fingered white tipped candlesnuff fungus pushing up between the pores in decaying logs, and the deadly, garish red and white spotted fly agaric beneath the cracked silvery trunks of birch.
November is: cold damp clinging fog and I want to stay indoors days.
November is: a fox standing motionless on the edge of a misty, ploughed field, nose lifted, tiny droplets of water caught in the fur, ears pointed, listening.
November is: the haunting cry of the geese on the water meadows settling down to the dusk.
November is amazing! So forget the cold and the damp, put on the hats and scarves and waterproofs, grab the wellies and get out there. Enjoy it, kick up some leaves, take some time to look up at the stars, stride out along the top of the Downs, and find those secret places in the woods laid bare by the winter.
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