Whilst October is undoubtedly my favourite month of the year, this year I am in danger of letting it slip right by me, barely looking up from the end of September to the beginning of November. And this won’t do. Dog and I still walk the riverside every morning, seeing the flow of the water change, speed up, become muddied with the rain. The trees are beginning to change too; their tips are burnished and an auburn haze hangs over the line of them. He pounces ineffectually at squirrels that shout and chatter from their safe height, whilst I watch the regimented V’s of geese honk overhead.
So, one Sunday morning, I wake at 6.30 to see the thin, sharp line of dawn seeping past the blind. Stand on the bed to open the rooflight and see a morning made of cold air and fog. Decide I am bored of being in bed. Not quite bored of the river, but needing a change of scenery.
Dress and gather the dog. Head to an old stomping ground of mine, where once a small group of teenage girls would escape to giggle and gossip and yell and jump around and try the rope swing. The view from the hill is blanketed, damp and muffled from passersby. The mist drips from branches overhead, beads on cobwebs, wets the grasses.
Set out along the almost-holloway, avoiding the rutted bits of track, made slippy and pitted by horses hooves. I remembered a coat but my fingers, brushing against the chill of the air, are pink and wish for gloves. The ever-ahead curve of the path makes us both move briskly, the mist barely seeps through the branches.
We pass the leaning, knotted stumps of trees that have twisted towards the light and are now held tight in a thick embrace of ivy, wound around the trunks like lovers arms. I kick the leaves that rustle damply under my boots and try to let some of my thoughts go. I am mildly successful.
We come across a new pathway that I don’t remember, a greenway marked by a nail-studded timber post. The snake weaves a sinuous invitation, I wonder who went to the trouble of creating him when normally, footpath signs around here are generic and dull. I like snakes, so mentally bookmark it for next time.
Continue trudging until boots are thoroughly muddied, stomachs are growling with a lack of breakfast and signs of habitation are starting to appear in the form of buckets, a hen house, a discarded hosepipe. Think of sausages, hot coffee, the book I’ve been saving all week. Turn back.