Gold


The day is dark and November-heavy. There’s no milk. I search through the window for a breath of beauty but there isn’t any. It’s wet, and last week I left my umbrella in a John Lewis changing room. I went back but it’d gone and I was cross because it was a pretty one – small with a leather handle and a black frill – the umbrella, not the room. I imagine a John-Lewis-type discovering it, in her underwear. I am not a John-Lewis-type. Shops like that scare me. I only go in there for sales and curtain material (or coffee).

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Anyway I’m going off shopping, big-time. It makes me want things I didn’t know existed – like headphone earmuffs or a cashmere hot water bottle (I don’t even have any headphones.) Also it’s draining and makes my feet hurt. I wish I lived in the country where there are no shops and you can smell soil and hear rain on leaves. London is drab in winter – wet or foggy and grey with sky like a scowl. The suburbs are concrete slabs with beds on. They have no secrets and no soul…

But it’s Friday so I can be slow, and there’s my Kindle and coffee and the local paper. The rain stops. Through the window, birds, a tiny rosebud. It’s a bit battle scarred and sad, but it’s alive, tight as a fist. All the other branches are dead, stems shrivelled, making the bud stand out, all yellow and hopeful like a smile.

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The rain’s brought out colours. Across the garden raindrops shiver from trees, there are berries and die-hard poppies. I like the way they just stand there, not caring that they’re a mess. Look, we didn’t expect to be here, in November, okay?! It’s a bonus. Enjoy it while it lasts…. I hope I’m like that when I’m old – bright, dishevelled, grateful… I don’t want to be a sour old woman, seeing the worst in everything and everyone. Life can do this to you, if you don’t pay attention, if you stop looking…

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What’s happened to me? I used to love autumn. All that shrugging on coats and scarves and easing conkers out of spiky shells. And a new hat – always a new hat for winter. I’d forgotten.

I go for a walk and see that God, who does autumn every year and knows what works, has tossed gems through south-west London. Behind cars or concrete – bush-low berries, coy trees on brick. Through bare branches, glimpses of pubs or backs of houses. Late roses and leaf art on pavements. And holly.

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When it’s grey, don’t forget to look for signs. Panning for gold is a way of life. And the bleaker the day, the more they stand out. If you’re looking right.

I take photos, go shopping and buy a hat.  From a shop.

From the bus there’s a sea of umbrellas and fine spraying rain. But I’m happy because of the hat and a horse chestnut which hammers the top of the bus with fists full of conkers. And on the walk home, there are berries.

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I think of the John-Lewis-type, (bold, confident, matching underwear), and wish her joy with her new umbrella. And hope the stray spoke doesn’t have her eye out…

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10 thoughts on “Gold

  1. Autumn is my favourite season because of the dramatic colours. Next door has a tree which is burning red at the moment and I love it. It’s the nearest I get to appreciating nature, at this time of year. Beautifully written post. I don’t know what it is about your writing but I think my heart rate slows down and I go all calm. And I love the way you’re using photographs these days.

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  2. I enjoyed reading this and looking at your photos – thanks for the reminder to look for the positives.
    November is a particularly difficult month for me, it’s 3 years next week since my husband died, the lawn is covered in leaves I don’t have the emotional energy to sweep up, I don’t like being cold and I’ve been struggling for the past few days. Tears spring up out of nowhere and bubble over but your blog post has been a little ray of sunshine into my day.
    The poppies are lovely and I needed to remember not to be bitter

    “I don’t want to be a sour old woman, seeing the worst in everything and everyone. Life can do this to you, if you don’t pay attention, if you stop looking…”

    And I especially loved the ending

    “And hope the stray spoke doesn’t have her eye out…”

    it really did make me laugh out loud! 😀 Thanks x

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    • Sarah, I don’t know what to say. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. It means a lot to me. I can see how November must be a massive challenge for you. I will pray that you will see God in many ways this month. I actually think lawns look much nicer covered in leaves at this time of year. But let me know when you do yours and I’ll do mine at the same time. Thanks again xx

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  3. Oh this is lovely. I think I’ve struck gold here! Such great images and reflection to cheer, make me smile and bring a flash of needful colour to a grey November day. You have made me think too about the kind of old woman I’m becoming. No, with my name, sour doesn’t really suit me. But how easy it is to miss the glory and grace glimmers all around us and have our needle stuck on grumble and complaining mode. I want to see life and see it whole (wait – that sounds like an idea for a blog post. Shame I’ve already written it!), take time to scent rain, smell roses, enjoy life and see it for the gift it truly is. Thank you! Blessings 🙂 xx

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  4. Hats are much more practical than brollies in the autumn, especially if you have to cross Kingston Bridge. I used to tie a ribbon between the label inside my hat and the loop on my coat just in case it got blown off when I walked to work. I expect your stray spoke was a result of a blowy day some when. November is special for me as it was when we got married, 24 years ago, and we had a glorious day, much to hubby’s annoyance, who wanted a golden blustery day. It just goes to prove that, even in the autumn, there can be sunshine. Thanks for the reminder that in our grey days there can be colour and life, if we choose to look for it. Continues blessings. xx

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    • Thank you Mad Lamb, for reading and commenting 🙂 Yes – Kingston Bridge can be a bit blowy. Glad you approve the hat thing. I used to buy one every time I was a bit down (I have a wardrobe full of them) but this latest purchase is the newest by some years. Lots of love to you both xx

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  5. Thanks for this – I loved the reminder to look out for colour in the midst of all the grey. It’s too easy to get caught up in negativity instead of looking for God at work in my life. Blessings, F. xx

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    • Yes – that’s something I so need to remember and somehow, writing it down helps. Thanks a lot for reading and commenting Fiona. Let’s keep our eyes peeled for God at work this week…:)

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