The rebinding of the roof of their dwelling thus complete, the members of the community gathered in a circle to bring to mind the effort they had all just made together that day. They stood for a few moments, reflecting on the warmth and majesty that the roots of the great oak trees brought to their home and on the skills and sensitivity they had each shown in their labour. Exchanging nods and hand clasps to express their mutual gratitude, the circle broke, and each member returned to his or her own affairs, in the hour that separated them from their evening meal.
Brbr decided to go alone for a short walk in the woods nearby, the atmosphere of the late, moist autumn still shaping her thoughts and animating her soul mood. Mixed-up, musty odours arose from the red, over-ripe berries on the branches out of reach from the birds; from the decaying leaves lying in jumbled hues on the forest floor; and from the mushrooms poking through the soil or sprouting from rotting stumps, here and there. Brbr felt a reminder once again of how life at this time each year was safely returned to the earth, soon to be snug beneath the velvet-white down of winter’s snows to come.
As she looked up, the dark purple profiles of the trees still contrasted against the ever deepening blue of the evening sky. She was conscious of the rustle around her boots, as they splashed through the gently flowing sea of leaf litter. She bent her head forwards, then downwards, and the words she whispered to herself , “I love to see the autumn leaves play around my feet”, captured the only thought present at that moment.
I guess I first became aware of the fun of autumn leaves as a boy, walking home from school during those special afternoons that started to leave summer behind and brought in its place the promise of an approaching Christmas. Instead of keeping to the cleared footpath that took the shortest route to my house, I would if I could turn down a back lane that went past a line of old sycamore trees. By November, the trees’ discarded leaves lay in piles big enough for me to kick them, so high, I could rush underneath the cloud they formed and let them all fall on my head and down my neck .
Those childhood memories had been coming to mind, as I heard the leaves once more swish around our feet. Now that the children are both away at university and we have begun to spend more time together again, I have returned to the pleasure of taking a walk with my wife. Laeken is one of our favourite places to go for some exercise. We love the incongruity of Nature through its trees and lawns, juxtaposed with the man-made magnetism of the futuristic, optical illusion that is the Atomium.
Most of all, we like to look upwards from the ground at the fascinating construction looming above us. Against the fixed silhouettes of the surrounding trees, any cloud passing behind those bright, bulbous, shiny spheres deceives our eyes so much, we can believe we were in motion. We like standing there minutes at a time, just to experience the weird sensation it gives us of slowly floating away to another world.
For that brief moment, the unmistakeable globes of the gleaming, metallic monument sharp in her memory, alongside the reality of the autumn trees and their fallen leaves around her, had given Brbr such clear visual prompts, that she realised exactly where she had been and where she was. She stopped walking and took in a long, calm, deep breath.
Within her realisation had come a calm, inner commitment to share with Dvd, the closest of her companions, her discovery.
“The day will soon come of Dvd’s return from the journey that took him so far away”, she said quietly to herself, as she turned and headed back home.