It was the morning of mornings. The saving grace about this decaying time of year is the suddeness of the beauty – the way gloomy drear gives way to spectacular gloriousness in the twinkling of an eye.
It was began as the coldest of the shortening days so far. There was subtle tick-ticking around the damp garden as accumulated water drops burst the surface tension on hundreds of leaves.
The birds seemed more grateful for the nuts and seeds hanging in the tree and scattered on their feeding table.
The sky was palest blue, as if masked by a translucent wedding veil.
The old-gold dead leaf twirled, caught for two days now in the thread of a spider’s web as strong as steel strung over the top of the back door.
It was time for work. I drove past the trees over the hill and the view of the Severn Vale extended before me. It’s a familiar view – often green or grey. There’s nothing inspiring about flatlands and electricity pylons but today it was breath-takingly and perfectly beautiful.
From the distant Cotswold edge, the sun blazed across the top of soft layers of mist lying low on the meadows. It burnished the skeletal pale branches of trees, lit up the bronze-crackly beech and oak leaves, warmed my face.
I hit the morning’s heavy traffic and sat waiting among scores of other cars but in my head and in my heart, I was on the bike.
This would have been a morning for cycling in my winter jacket and longs, sunglasses on against the glare, cheeks feeling the bitter-keen cold, knees freezing, hands snug in day-glo winter mitts.
It would have been a morning for pedalling up on to the old Telford bridge and slowing to gaze down at the milk-chocolate River Severn simmering gently with millions of tendrils of steamy mist twirling upwards.
It would have been a morning for losing myself in the lanes, following my nose in the early sun, looking over my shoulder to see the tower of Gloucester Cathedral lightly pencilled against the blazing Turneresque glow of morning.
There was no time for play. I had work and a meeting but felt lucky to have witnessed the very best of the day.