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  • Writer's pictureMonique Sliedrecht


The first day of a new season - on the astronomical calendar anyway - has happened, and it seems that the shades and smells of autumn are starting to reveal themselves.

I’ve enjoyed the slight change in weather and the richness of colour in the landscape, not to mention being outside, breathing in the fresh air, digging up last weeds, clearing brush for big bonfires (when it isn’t raining!), and enjoying lowering sunshine. The swallows have most definitely flown their nests and started their long journey to South Africa, and the nights are closing in. The sea at Freswick is churning up brown and yellow seaweeds, the shore plants are fading in their luscious greens, being replaced by yellows and reds.

The burn is in full form with it's peaty freshwater rushing towards the sea. I can hardly get across with my wellies at the moment - for fear of falling right in when precariously sliding all over the slippery rocks!

The close of the season at Freswick Castle, where I’m based in the far north of Scotland for a good part of the year, was marked by a very special Golden Wedding celebration a couple of weekends ago. Since then I have thought a bit more about the colour ‘gold’ - not a colour that I have paid much attention to. Now that it's on my mind I'm noticing it everywhere, especially in the surrounding nature:

Green-gold of lichen on branches

Amber gold of the rushing peat river

Yellow gold of sunlit leaves

Orange gold of lichen on rocks

We talk of the golden light of a sunset, a gold-crested bird, or reaching for gold…

Some artists work in gold, and produce beautiful results in their jewellery or sculpture. Gold leaf is a material I have added to paintings, which helps add a glow to the piece, accenting certain areas.

Monet said 'I wear myself out and struggle with the sun. And what a sun here! It would be necessary to paint here with gold and gemstones. It is wonderful.' He was likely speaking of the south of France when he said this. While a very different place, I could say the same for the north of Scotland which has it's own special golden light, especially at this time of year.

There is something about the colour gold that brings a warmth and depth of feeling and experience when looking at it, or being surrounded by it's light. I felt a similar warmth in the celebrations with Jock and Margaret on their 50th wedding anniversary - something that went beyond the open fires and many lit candles. Theirs is a relationship that has been forged through the years and come out in the purest of gold. What a thing to be celebrated!

This lovely time together with them, celebrating their lives and the many ways they have touched and inspired people, led me to think of this colour in a new way, which seems so fitting at the start of Autumn.


Along the tops of all the yellow trees, The golden-yellow trees, the sunshine lies; And where the leaves are gone, long rays surprise Lone depths of thicket with their brightnesses; And through the woods, all waste of many a breeze, Cometh more joy of light for Poet's eyes- Green fields lying yellow underneath the skies, And shining houses and blue distances.

By the roadside, like rocks of golden ore That make the western river-beds so bright, The briar and the furze are all alight! Perhaps the year will be so fair no more, But now the fallen, falling leaves are gay, And autumn old has shone into a Day!

Autumn's Gold - George MacDonald

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