With summer officially ending on Wednesday, and reports last week of El Niño bringing wet winters to Britain, Tobias Jones celebrates the many ways in which rural life retains its magic – even as the days start to close in and the holiday visitors flee back to their cities

Autumn can be a grim time of year: a soggy, darkening season in which the languid pleasures of summer, and the celebrations and beauty of winter, seem very far away. It’s the time of year when we realise how far we’ve fallen short of the optimism and resolutions from the start of the year.

And yet, for those of us who live in the midst of nature, it is the most mellow and moving of all the seasons. The light is more nuanced, softer somehow. The uniform green of our community woodland has become a collage of russet and copper. The fringes of the magnificent beech tree in our central clearing go a little more yellow each day. The Virginia creepers blush red.

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Source: Guardian Environment