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The Tuesday tree: last day of summer

September 20, 2011

While we have been waiting in vain for summer to get going in Scotland, Autumn has crept up on us unawares. My husband always says, however, that the twentieth of September is the last day of summer, being the day before the Autumn Equinox. And I suppose he should know, since it’s his birthday! Driving back from school this morning, though, after my few days in the warm south, I did notice how the season is advancing. Shadows are longer in the early morning, the grass is wet and the trees are turning colour one by one.


In this double avenue, the smaller sweet chestnuts are already shedding their brown leaves, while the old oaks behind are still green.

The limes are turning, well, lime-ish: their green is taking on a subtle yellow hue. The grass beneath them is already spattered with the gold of fallen leaves.

Meanwhile, our conker tree is ahead of every other species, as always: one dangling branch is already almost completely bare.

I love this time of year. After our underwhelming summer, we can only look forward to the golden days of autumn.


You might like Golden rain under the lime avenues.




11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2011 5:39 am

    Gorgeous colours and the anticipation of what’s to come. I love autumn, sadly for us the equinox generally brings winds of destruction and even now everything’s looking a bit brown and crispy rather than gorgeous. Lovely post, thanks! Fay

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 21, 2011 10:57 am

      Hello, Fay, thanks for visiting! I suppose the Orkneys must look a bit ‘scoured’ in the winter months – we have it easy by comparison, down here in the soft south! But your wild flowers in spring and summer, and the thousands of birds passing through, and the endlessly changing big skies…they must make up for the long bleak months of autumn and winter. If I lived in Orkney, I think I’d be forever falling behind with the chores as I’d just be gaping oot the windae all the time! 🙂

  2. Toffeeapple permalink
    September 21, 2011 10:29 am

    This is my favourite season. Your trees are wonderful and you have so many of them! The Horse Chestnut is turning a lovely colour. IN spring, are you transported by the perfume from the lime trees?

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 21, 2011 11:01 am

      Hmm, I think perhaps it’s mine too. Although it’s a bit like choosing whether you prefer strawberries or raspberries: the favourite is usually whichever you are enjoying at the time.

      We do have an extraordinary number of trees here. ‘Trees R Us’, my husband sometimes says. And yes, walking under the limes on a warm day in early summer is almost intoxicating. That delicious sweet, heady smell of the blossom, and the hum of a million bees like some great engine thrumming away. Bliss.

  3. September 21, 2011 10:33 am

    It seems crazy to me how fast the seasons started changing this year. The rowan tree at my window is bare except for its bunches of very red berries and the odd dried up leaf that refuses to fall. It seems to be the farthest along of the trees on our street, but it’s been like that for at least a week or more already. Still, if this season wants to sit with us a bit longer than the others this year, I wouldn’t mind.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 21, 2011 11:05 am

      How amazing that your rowan is so far ahead of itself. Extraordinary! I’ve read that all this early Autumn is because of the hot dry April: certainly, some of our trees (the Notafagi or S. American beech) started to turn red within 3 weeks of coming into leaf this year, owing to the lack of rainfall. You would think that the rainfall had made up for it since then, but apparently it doesn’t work like that! I agree with you, though, that a long Autumn would be a real pleasure, so I’ve no complaints.

  4. Erika W. permalink
    September 21, 2011 1:28 pm

    A whisper in your ear: Autumn equinox this year falls on September 23rd, being variable although not as pronounced as Easter, so you have a small pocket of Summer left.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 21, 2011 10:42 pm

      Aw, thanks, bless you! I know it ‘wobbles’ slightly but always take the 21st as the rough or ‘mean’ date of the Equinox. I’m happy to take another couple of days of summer – although today has been classically equinoctial, with wind and driving rain and a sudden drop in temperature.

  5. Menatra permalink
    September 21, 2011 2:54 pm

    Just a quick question, what is a conker exactly? I am pretty sure we don’t have them here in Canada or at least I haven’t heard of them.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 21, 2011 10:52 pm

      Conkers are the fruit of the Horse Chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum). The horse chestnut isn’t a chestnut and the fruits look like nuts but aren’t, apparently. (Clear as mud, then?!) The trees have beautiful large spikes of white flowers in the late spring, which later develop into green spiky capsules about the size of a squash ball. Inside each capsule is one or more of the brown nut-like conkers. They have a wonderful sheen, like polished antique wood, and are just gorgeously collectable. When I was little, we used to make a hole in them and thread a string through and then play conkers, in which you swung your conker at your opponents and tried to smash his or hers. It’s an ancient British playground game which has almost died out now. My boys still love to fill their pockets with shiny conkers, though. English conkers can grow pretty big, but they never grow very large in Scotland. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Horse Chestnut finds Canadian winters too cold.

      • Menatra permalink
        September 22, 2011 3:48 pm

        Thank you so much for the info. That does clear it up. I would think that the conkers game would be a bit violent at times, especially with children, so I can see why it might not be played anymore! The Horse Chestnut probably would find the Canadian winters too cold but it’s not the only thing to find our winters too cold.

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