Each season offers its own basket of delights, in winter we have the skeletal trees set against the grey skies, spring brings an outpouring of life and acid greens. Summer, such that it is, is a time of balmy days and abundant food. Before you know it, autumn is upon us once again and nature starts its most dramatic change of all. As the light ebbs, leaves start the process of leaching chlorophyll back into the tree and changing to a fantastic range of colours, the warm days are tempered by sharper mornings and the mists soften the countryside.
Autumn is one of Jim Crumley’s favourite seasons, an emotion triggered after seeing geese flying overhead when he was young. He takes us on a journey around his home country of Scotland travelling from the lowlands up into the Highlands and across to the islands to see the Autumn unfold. His travels take him to see the vast whooper swan flocks that have headed down from the Arctic, the ancient brocks that only exist in this part of the world and he seeks out the Redwoods that grow there. His keen eyes see the golden eagles that float over the mountains, the traces of otters and beavers that live in the rivers, the fleeting glimpses of deer in the woods the blur of a stoat and watching an owl float silently over a field.
There is nothing particularly profound in here, just the stories of a man who takes the time to head out as often as he can to sit and watch the world inexorably grind through the first flush of autumn to the arrival of the snows. He is great at finding the words that fill in the picture of the place that he is visiting; so much so that you feel that you are sitting alongside him at certain points as he takes in the views. As well as being a eulogy to autumn, it is a reflective book too, he takes a moment to celebrate his late father and grandfather and their achievements. It did take a little away from the main point of the book though, but it is still worth reading for his gentle, lyrical language.