Like a Klimt painting, autumn is leaved in gold, bronze and copper and Red River Croft is no exception. Although we do not have the grandeur of the oak, beech and larch trees that flaunt their glory in nearby Sheildaig, Badachro and around Gairloch, the grasses and sedges, dwarf shrubs and small trees, such as birch and hazel, catch fire in the early morning or late afternoon sun. Most distinctive are deer grass and bracken which glow with earthy redness as daylight wanes.
And while all across the country we marvel at and enjoy autumnal delights there are days when gilded glowing is replaced by dark, brooding skies of greys, in many shades, literally uncountable. Clouds speed across the sky, varying in thickness, opacity, shape and reflectivity and their effect is to change the moods of sea, shore, mountain and loch, and of human.
The last two months have been unusually warm. By the 1st of November 2013 snow had fallen on the mountains behind us to the east and did not disappear until spring. We have had a few squally showers with gusting rain and hail but these weather events have been relatively short-lived, punctuating calmer, brighter, no-need-for-a-coat days, rather than the other way around. Even when the greys have ruled the day one is taken aback by the multiplicity of shades and tones; nature is an interior and exterior colour consultant with more on offer than any human designer or architect, for her light and tone affect inside the home just as much as the wildness around it.
So when the winds blow, shades of grey are whipped up across sky and over sea. Rock and river reflect the changing light, and thus grey stones and leafless trees glow as crustose lichens luminesce, while green grass and low shrubs are subdued and take on ghostly, wavering forms, whispering and shuddering, and the sea hints at darker deeds.
I have neither wordsmith’s skill nor artist’s palette to portray or recreate these grey days. They are filled with the urgent motion of birds capturing turbulent air, whirling and tumbling, of remnant leaves hurtling across paths and ditches, ensnared in wire fences and against stone walls, and of colossal waves of indigo, pewter, chromite, viridium and umber, tumbling white and grey as they break against the shore.
More than 50 shades of grey, more than 150 shades of grey, until the sun breaks through and a golden calm, as if a heavenly haze, returns.