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Ronan's report

Sunday October 14th, 2012

I've just come in from raking the lawn. A sudden frost last week resulted in one of our trees unilaterally deciding that winter had arrived and dropping all its leaves in one go. Without the usual breeze to scatter them down the valley we lost all sight of the grass beneath a thick leaf blanket.

I quite like raking leaves. It's easy work and on a still, bright day like today you have the triple pleasure of the warm autumn colours, the spicy smell of dying vegetation, and the crackling sound of the leaves as you gather them together.

That paper-bag-rustle brings back happy childhood leaf kicking memories. In fact not just childhood, kicking leaves at any age is a pleasure to savour. Leaf kicking is one of those things that is fun in itself: Absolutely no point whatsoever apart from having a laugh, and kicking leaves always makes you laugh.

But more than that, there's something in the quality of the rustling sound itself. Even on the frostiest of days, the crisp scrattling of leaves is a warm sound like the crackling of a log fire. Lie down on a bed of leaves and (pushing all thoughts of earwigs out of your mind) it's warm and comfy. Curl up like a hedgehog, under a pile of leaves and you'll sleep 'til spring.

Walking along a rainy river bank in autumn, the wet leaves are mute. More than that, they silence your footsteps. You and the leaves in stealth mode. Sound deadened. Wet leaves on the bank are good. Wet leaves in the river are bad.

I spent a hopeless day after salmon on Tuesday. Up to my waist in a river turned chocolate brown by overnight rain, feeling the pluck-pluck on my fingers as the hook caught leaf after leaf, after leaf, after leaf. I suspect that I pulled more leaves off the hook on Tuesday than I raked off the lawn today.

All of them silent. All of them cold.

Bad leaves.


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