When autumn leaves start to fall…

I’ve never been able to resist picking up things when I’m out on a walk – interesting pebbles, twigs with lichen on them, pine cones, berries, leaves. If you have to ask ‘Whatever makes a pebble interesting?’ this probably isn’t the post for you. Because us pebble-gatherers could give you a whole list of qualities: shape, colour, texture, got lines round it, got bits in it. Got a hole in it! Perhaps the world is divided into those who pick stuff up, and those who really don’t see the point.

My pockets are always full of bits and bobs I’ve gathered. I never visit a beach without finding something I can’t seem to leave without – shell, sea-glass, pebble, hag-stone, driftwood, fossil. Here are some of my treasures:

Pebbles, oyster shells  and driftwood

Pebbles, oyster shells and driftwood

Windy autumn days provide a fantastic harvest, and there is always another leaf shape, another shade of yellow or gold or zingy pink that I haven’t quite got in my collection. Never mind that the collection withers and shrivels at home, that I wonder why I’ve got seven perfect shiny conkers lined up on the windowsill – and no kids in the house. Conkers are truly irresistible, and there is huge row of horse chestnut trees near my house where I used to take my children conker-gathering every autumn when they were small. I hope families still do that, but I haven’t seen any this year.

nature table, autumn leaves and fruit collected on walks

Another recent haul for the nature table

One of my sons used to pick up pebbles and sticks from an early age, leaning from his buggy as we walked through the park and gesturing for one more, not that one, that one! The seat filled up with treasure and the sticks often got stuck in the buggy wheels. We always had a collection of wizened and twisted wands outside our front door that Gandalf would have been envious of. He’s grown out of this habit now, but I haven’t.

This post is nothing to do with reading or writing children’s books. But collecting stuff is a passion I shared with my children, and I’m sure we will pass on.

windy day, autumn leaves and berries, nature table

My latest collection, gathered on a very windy day


4 thoughts on “When autumn leaves start to fall…

  1. I agree with you about how tempting it is to glean from nature’s bounty. I usually weave red, yellow and brown leaves into a wreath for my door — arranging them into a bowl is a much easier and wiser thing to do! I’m going to steal your idea this year. I just wish we had conkers in NYC.

    • A wreath of autumn leaves is a lovely idea. I only manage a Christmas one. Forgive my ignorance, but are the conker-producing horse chestnuts only a European tree? Or is it just NYC that lacks them? Quite by chance I retweeted some wonderful pictures of flowers and vegetable plots in NYC just yesterday. http://www.riverofflowers.org/wild-city-blog/urban-landscapes-floating-farms
      And I have to confess that minutes after I took that central photo my cat trashed the display; it was full of interesting smells, and she was keen to knock the conkers round the floor!

      • A bit of research shows that NYC has horse chestnuts, but either the street cleaners are very efficient or there are none in my neighborhood — I’ve never seen conkers lying around.
        Too bad about your cat’s exuberance. But it just means you get to collect more!

  2. I’m sure autumn leaves must be a staple of children’s literature — after all, come October every primary school classroom has some improving display featuring them, put up by teachers eager to mark the passing seasons! But I can’t think of anything at the moment.

    The only adult fiction that springs to mind about picking up pebbles from the beach is the rather spooky short story by Robert Graves called ‘The Shout’. But I wouldn’t recommend it for young readers…

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