By Patrick O’Sullivan

A lovely autumn evening. A few weeks earlier, I had dead-headed the yellow roses in the back yard and cut them back a little. They had put out new blooms in the interval, the loveliest thing to see some of them showing through the boughs of the variegated holly tree nearby.

As I stood and looked, the yellow of the roses was caught in the light of the early evening sun so that they seemed more beautiful still: the perfect foil as they were for the variegated leaves and rich red berries of the holly. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a fusion, a coming together of the seasons: the roses an echo of summer, the berries a promise of winter, all blessed by the soft autumnal sunshine.

Brushing up leaves can be a bit of a chore for many people at this time of year, so much so that they have resorted to leaf blowers and the like to give them a helping hand. I have to admit that I’m a traditionalist when it come to things like this, which is why I stuck with the tried and trusted brush. There is something very elemental about brushing up leaves the old-fashioned way, something that brings with it a heightened sense of connection with nature.

OF COURSE, it is much slower than more modern options, but then as my father might have said of old, I wasn’t exactly running for the mail train or anything. No, I had all the time in the world, my brushing steady but purposeful so that I had plenty of time not only to see the colours of the leaves but to hear their dry, papery crackle too.

Here was a sound evocative, so evocative of all the times I ran as a boy down the long path in the grove, my brown and white sheepdog Rover, my friend for all seasons running and romping before me. The yellow leaves tumbling around us, their fallen counterparts crackling underfoot. It was a sound I loved even then, speaking as it did of fulfillment and achievement and the completion of the cycle. I loved the trees themselves, everything about them stately, enduring and strong.

When I finished brushing the leaves in the yard, I went to pick up some of those that had fallen from the chestnut tree in the corner of the field. My intention as always to make a little bit of compost with them, or simply to put them around the bases of the shrubs in the garden. The fine old tree had produced a fine crop of chestnuts, the latter the richest, the glossiest of browns.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own