Yesterday I took a walk in the Gardens in my lunch break. It was a beautiful, misty autumn day, like an embodiment of Keats’ poem; the light was soft, the air mild, there were scarlet berries and fantastic fall colours everywhere, and more still to come. The red oaks are red and the lindens are golden now, but the Nothofagus have only just begun to turn. I even saw a goldcrest, Britain’s smallest bird, in the bare branches of the sprawling Canary Bird rose near the back door of the office. In the Princess of Wales conservatory the most recent Titan Arum has finished doing its thing and folded up, but the flowering Aloe abrupta was still going through the roof, the lithops were covered in bright little daisy-flowers like toys, and there was still a glorious display of tropical waterlilies.
Sometimes I feel as though I work in a magical place, where dirty, scrubby, anxiety-ridden modern London is trapped on the other side of the boundary wall and the spirit of Albion reigns within. These autumn colours are riches like treasure, poured out around me. The geese fly overhead in a long skein, heading for the river, and a tree murmuring with hundreds of starlings amid glowing foliage evokes William Blake’s visions of angels in the trees of Peckham Rye. Inside, the waterlilies look like Mughal cups carved from rare gemstones, floating in readiness for the hands of kings.
I needed the break; I need a break, full stop. Last week I ended up working through my lunch hour four days out of five. I’ve been so busy recently I feel as though I’ve barely sat down. I know I have sat down, obviously – apart from anything else, I have an office job, so like it or not large chunks of my working day are spent parked on my broad behind. But it’s been all go, at work and outside. I really needed to make that quiet reconnection with the air and the trees and the autumn gold…
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