Saturday, 17 September 2016


As days begin to shorten, we share ways we enjoy seeing the light. We'd love to hear your thoughts too...

Rae - After enduring a rather, dismal wet summer here in north-east Scotland, the past two weeks have been wonderful, as the sun has made a welcome reappearance. The warmth has been pleasant but it’s the autumnal light that has the power to stop me in my tracks. Like most writers, my to-do-lists (plural!) grow faster than mushrooms and although I live in the countryside and am surrounded by beauty that changes on a daily basis, I rarely take time to stand and stare. However, at this time of year I yearn to do just that, reminding me of the W H Davis poem Leisure.

Autumn, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
During autumn, the golden hour, that last hour of evening sunlight, seems to hold a special softening quality that enhances the vividness of the landscape. Perhaps it’s knowing winter is just around the corner, that forces me to focus on light, before the skies become low and leaden again. One autumn evening, several years ago, I was driving from Edinburgh, through rural Perthshire, on the first leg of my three hour journey north, when Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’ began playing on the radio. The ripe barley on either side of the motorway swayed as it glowed, and between the romantic sentiments of the song lyrics and the luminescence of the fading sunlight, I felt forced to take time out from my race home, to pull over and simply enjoy the moment. I’m thankful autumnal light possesses the strength to make me stop and stare.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

by William Henry Davies

Gill - Recently Linda wrote a blog about summer and Christmas books, and I realised that one of my
The bonfire - a different kind of light
favourite times of year is actually spring. Then I thought, no, but I like winter, too. And autumn, when the colours are changing and the nights are drawing in, is just brilliant. It’s a time when there isless light outside, but the quality of it changes. It’s also the time of Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night, both of which use the light of flames which I love. I don’t know if it’s because my sister and I both have birthdays are in November, but autumn has always been a happy time for me - a ‘light’ time, even though the light is different.

 Jennie - We all need ‘Light’ in its many guises in our lives. For me this painting (artist unknown picture courtesy of pixabay) sums up the light in the South of France. One of the things I found difficult (there weren’t many I grant you!) about living down there was that the changing seasons didn’t really register. The clocks went back at the end of summer and the temperature dropped, but the sun still shone on a daily basis and there was rarely any autumnal foliage to remind one that winter was on its way. The year round light down there has enticed painters for centuries.

Whereas this photo is more reminiscent of this time of year where I live now in Brittany. 
Our skies are cloudier and darker as summer changes into autumn, falling leaves change colour, and the autumnal mists arrive. As September days pass and October arrives, we become accustomed to living with shorter days and longer nights.

This particular September has seen the 15th anniversary of  9/11 an event that shook the world and turned off the light for so many. Sadly since then there have been more atrocities turning the world these days into a scary place.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Linda - Most of us are full of good intentions – lose weight, drink less wine, see friends and family more, write every day. And then life gets in the way. We go to a dark place (that metaphorical tunnel) through, say, illness – our own or a loved one’s. Or marriages/relationships break down – again, our own or that of someone very close to us. We find that there are pieces to be picked up, and there are loved ones who need more of our time, or our money, or both. Our shoulders become damp from all the crying done on them, and we are – in the main – glad that we are there for them. So, the diet goes, replaced by soul-food doughnuts. We need that glass of wine at the end of a particularly sad/busy/worrying day. We’ve had to cancel lunch/dinner with family/friends yet again as it transpires we only have the twenty-four hours in every day that everyone else has. And the writing?
Well, there’s always tomorrow, isn’t there? As writers we can’t help logging little snippets in our memories – an image, a few words, a feeling – so we can drag them all out again one day and commit them to paper. And we must be very thankful that we are writers and that we have that facility. And do you know what? Tunnels – real and metaphorical – don’t go on for ever. There is always that little chink of light that beckons us eventually, gives us hope, beckons us on.

Jennifer - It's funny how light always comes in at the end, isn't it? It's at the end of the tunnel. It's the sun breaking through after a storm. It's the celestial light of the Last Judgement in a myriad church windows. Even the motto of my football team is 'Out of darkness comes light'. (Let's hope that last bit is true - it ain't looking good right now!)

As a writer I've never consciously articulated the way that the pattern of emerging into the light underlies almost every story I've ever written. It's partly because they're romance and so they must, by definition, have a happy ending. But even the non-romantic stories I write tend to have positive endings, even when they aren't altogether happy ones. Stories must reach a resolution and in my stories the resolution, whatever it is, has some kind of positive.

I take no pleasure into chasing my characters into darkness and pain. But I take great joy out of bringing them out again, and leaving them standing, at last, in the light.

Neil - As a landscape photographer, finding the right light is everything. It’s the reason I rise at unreasonable hours or trample the countryside when most are thinking of bed, as the ‘golden’ hour
for our work takes place around sunrise and sunset. During the day in summertime, the sun is too high and bright making it difficult to create the right shot. However, with the onset of autumn, as the sun drops lower in the sky, the light softens - a gift for photographers. At this time of year, landscape photographers often continue to take photographs throughout the day and many will claim autumn as their favourite season of the year.

Also, when choosing a location for a shoot, it’s important to balance light with shade, so that the overall piece has the correct sense of proportion. I imagine it must be similar for writers? As a photographer, light also dictates what settings I use, ...shutter speed, exposure and aperture. As the long, dark days of winter make it harder for me to indulge my passion for photography, I like to make the most of the autumnal light.  Hope you enjoy one of my recent shots…


  1. I know I could be a teensy bit biased but I think this is one of the best - if not the best - post we have ever had on this site. Thanks, one and all.

    1. I agree that it's a lovely, hopeful post, Linda.

  2. What a really lovely post - thank you to all! Autumn is my favourite time of year and so many of you summed up all that is beautiful and inspiring about it.

    1. Hello, Rosemary and thanks for popping by. Delighted to hear you enjoy Autumn too. : ) We're enjoying our first proper harvest from two plum tree which we planted seven years ago - very exciting. Lots of plum crumble coming up!