Autumn

I’m going to be bold and declare autumn in Młociny as starting today!

It is 09:30, overcast and damp with a temperature of 11C. The grass is heavy with dew making my slippers and trouser bottoms wet as I tramp around the lawn checking for signs of the Shaggy Ink Cap mushrooms I had spotted earlier in the week. They have disappeared already, earlier than last year, but I manage to find another variety and take a shot of those instead. I’m accompanied on this stroll by the feint sounds of megaphone-speak drifting across from neighbouring Młociny park where they must be holding another Sunday event and by the birds flitting around between the feeders I filled yesterday.

I found some easy to purchase peanuts, by the way. Carrefour “Happy Nuts”, unsalted and relatively cheap peanuts for about 5 zlots a pack with one pack filling a pretty big feeder. Certainly keeps the birds happy. Hallelujah!

The early dropping trees, such as our very old Black Poplar, have already shed their leaves and others are now joining in with only the oak showing no signs that autumn is here. Oaks must naturally have their time clocks shifted somewhat later than the rest as the oak was also the last to get its leaves this spring by quite a margin. The squirrels and jays have already stripped it of acorns and hidden them in one of a multitude of hiding places that their tiny little brains will remember months later when the need is greater.

Weather such as this morning always reminds me of England, primarily because it is damp and chilly. It’s only when you’ve been away from England for a long time that you can truly appreciate how liquid the weather is over there with heavy/light rain, drizzle, dew, wet fog or ice being the norm and dry sunny days few and far between. A maritime climate warmed by the influence of the Gulf Stream is a very characterful and memorable thing, like an old friend who’s always there and can be relied upon even though he’s a bit annoying most of the time. Very different to the continental climate we have in Warsaw where it rains very infrequently but when it does it tends to be stormy with a lot of water coming down in a short time.

So it is that a morning like this reminds me of England and has me reaching for the appropriate clothing, the Barbour jacket and wellies. Except I don’t possess either of them nowadays. I did notice a Barbour shop on Emilii Plater the other day and as wellies are now a hot fashion accessory in Warsaw I think I shall pop in and buy a pair soon. They won’t be extravagantly decorated, as is the current trend, but they will do the job and last for ages.

One last nostalgia trip never before encountered in Poland was the sight a while back of Polish families throwing sticks at horse-chestnut trees to gather conkers! It is perhaps too much to expect that they were going on to thread them onto a piece of string and try to smash their opponents conker to smithereens; or to pickle them in vinegar and bake them in the oven to make them even more indestructible (AKA cheating), or to call the flatter shaped ones with a cutting edge “cheese cutters”, or to lovingly take care of their “sixer” (the one that has won six battles), or even to have those nervous moments when you’re up against an opponent who’s swing is so wild that he’s more likely to smash your knuckles than your conker but you can’t twitch because he’ll just get another go. Too much to ask, I’m sure. It was probably just an assignment from school and they now nestle as a feature in a display of autumn leaves and twigs. It brought back memories though of me doing the same many years ago, somewhere along Salmon Street, a short bus ride from Wembley Stadium, here:

I wonder, as this part of London is now an outpost of Bangladesh, whether the locals still gather conkers and play the game as we did? I hope so but if not the game of conkers must surely be alive and well in other parts of that green and pleasant land.

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4 thoughts on “Autumn

  1. Ian, I could imagine your narrative to the last word so to speak except for the bit about conkers.

    Autumn leaves in the picture is about as calm an environs I can imagine in the bustle of my city.

    Beautifully written.

  2. Amil, you can read all about ‘conkers’ here

    http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/conkers.html

    Ian, oh I remember it well – those short break periods between lessons in the playground, cold and damp autumn days, or windy and cold, wearing school uniform shorts, goose bumps on goose bumps, wincing from the pain when the string bit into your fingers due to heavy whacks and tangled tugs or when hit by wayward conkers (your opponent’s or your own), kids standing around watching conker fights, comparing conkers and techniques, telling tall tales, and the highs and lows of winning and losing. Brilliant!

  3. The best are autumn birds! :D
    Made from mud, but who cares? Or perhaps they are after fresh visit of Bazyliszek? However as I remember this varsavian legend, he (monster bazyliszek) changed everything he looked at into the stones!

    Congratuliations of imagination! They really look like the ducks on the pond.

    P.S. And Dew is my Indian name! How did you know it? ;-)

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