I grew up in Western Australia. We may have had a deciduous tree with changing leaf colour on my home farm or local town but I don’t recall it. Once I found a few red leaves beneath a eucalyptus. Such excitement! I did see autumnal colour before adulthood but never more than a few trees together.
I moved to England several years ago and began to see what all the northern hemisphere books of my childhood were on about: pale yellow leaves en masse; the occasional – and, hence, for me, sought after – red-leafed tree; a dash of orange perhaps. It’s a pleasurable way to mark the transition to colder months but, at least where I live, leaves are brown and crunchy by the time they fall to the ground – or become so very quickly. The real beauty lies in the dark intricacies of bare winter trees. Autumn is a passage more than a destination.
In Norrkoping, Sweden, I finally got autumn.
This, as I alighted from the train:
Carpets of leaves, deep and spongy, cover paths, roads, steps, parks. People talk of the silence of snow; this autumn is my silence.
The gold is alive, vibrating with nuances of colour.
In my primary school classes, we sometimes constructed dioramas – boxes containing a scene from a book, an historical event etc. Being within the bounds of Norrkoping for two days I felt as if I’d been plucked from my normal life and lowered into some kind of multi-sided diorama: Autumn for Beginners.
Each leaf is defined and begs consideration but, like shells on a beach, or rocks in a scree field, makes a delight of the collective.
Autumn in Norrkoping is bold, invigorating, vast and luxurious yet snug and detailed.
It has explained.