I wandered into their world at Hallowe’en, when the boundaries between our realities are at their thinnest.
The further I fled from the city, the lonelier the roads became, until I found myself quite alone, coasting down country lanes. Destination anywhere.
Just the hum of my car, the whirr of its tires, and all around me, the mesmerising colours of autumn. It was meditative, yet almost sublimely unsettling, driving into a forest that had once been so verdant, so full of life, but now was withering.
I sped through a beautiful melancholy. Around me, it felt as if the spirit of nature itself was dying – or fleeing, aware of the advance of a malign icy force lurking over the horizon. A presence that was slowly obscuring the sun, concealing its light, lengthening the shadows. I could already feel its chill influence when I ventured outside, a frosty spirit that sapped me of energy, encouraging my primeval self to retreat back to my shelter.
For our ancestors the encroaching winter must have felt like a malevolent invasion, as if the world around them was fighting for its continued existence. Precarious, anxiously awaiting the chilling, killing, smothering shroud of snows.
I stared through the windscreen at the passing blur, feeling a lingering sorrow for the leaves, their lifeforce being inexorably extinguished by the cold enveloping mists. Never was the passage of time so evident, at Autumn we watch as what was once so exuberant shrivels with age, yellowing and tumbling before our eyes. Annihilated by an invisible, irresistible power, one scarier than any monster we can imagine.
Perhaps our unease at this time of year fuelled folk tales of ghosts and vampires. Yet they don’t haunt our imaginations in the dark depths of midwinter, their time is at the end of October, when the world around us is visibly dying. Hallowe’en was a memento mori, a reminder that regardless of your youth or your power, vitality was transient. That everything you held dear, all you’d ever love and struggle for, all would ultimately shrivel and fall. It was inescapable, indisputable, immutable; whether meek or mighty, in time we’d all share the fate of the leaves.
A chill sensation ran over my skin, raising goosebumps. And it felt like everything and nothing had suddenly changed…
Continuing our Halloween countdown, a reminder that you can’t run away without ending up somewhere.
And don’t forget, a brand new story will be posted at midnight tonight…