Moments of transitory beauty
On the way to work, a glorious, almost perfect Scottish autumn morning; the sun is lower in the horizon and its light now stretched out to deeper, warmer tones than the harsher light of summer – we’ve entered the Golden Time. Our location north of the edge of Europe means our weather and climate isn’t always the nicest but it also means we are at the curve of the Earth to see the sun tilt further as the seasons pass us, from the height of summer to the low arc of the sun’s brief appearance in winter. At this time of year, when we are lucky enough to have a clear day, it means the sunlight becomes the most glorious golden-copper hue; against the older buildings constructed of great blocks of native stone rather than mere bricks it looks magnificent.
It looks even more beautiful against our nation’s natural beauty (and regardless of weather one thing Scotland has in abundance is astonishing natural beauty), the warm gold of the autumnal sun matching the colours of the season perfectly, the gold of the harvest being brought in, the leaves browning, crisping, drying, turning, falling. Yesterday morning an almost perfect autumn scene – clear, pale blue sky and the sun, low now in the sky, just above Castle Ridge, shining directly through the rich foliage of the trees in Princes Street Gardens as I passed.
The branches are still full of heavy greenery from summer, but already some leaves are turning, a mix of verdant green with touches of red, brown and gold, the trees equivalent of the man with just a touch of distinguished gray, perhaps. The low morning sun came through them from behind and lit them up, the green still vibrantly alive, the turning leaves glowing as if from inner fire, a last reminder of beauty and life before the long sleep of winter; Edinburgh Castle, her ancient stones warming in the morning sun, the backdrop to this and what a backdrop. It lasted only seconds, the juxtaposition of where I was, where the sun was in relation to me, the trees, but for a few seconds I saw pure beauty shining in a dying leaf and the play of shadows and sunbeams across the Castle. For a few seconds I had no cares in this world, lost in the ephemeral, momentary beauty of my homeland, glowing with the glorious light of an Impressionist painting but infinitely more lovely than any artist’s hand could capture.