Copper Beech Tree in Rural Hampshire by Alex Cassels, fine art photography
from Watership Down by Richard Adams
Although leaves remained on the beeches and the sunshine was warm, there was a sense of growing emptiness over the wide space of the down. The flowers were sparser. Here and there a yellow tormentil showed in the grass, a late harebell or a few shreds of purple bloom on a brown, crisping tuft of self-heal. But most of the plants still to be seen were in seed.
Along the edge of the wood a sheet of wild clematis showed like a patch of smoke, all its sweet-smelling flowers turned to old manís beard. The songs of the insects were fewer and intermittent. Great stretches of the long grass, once the teeming jungle of summer, were almost deserted, with only a hurrying beetle or a torpid spider left out of all the myriads of August. The gnats still danced in the bright air, but the swifts that had swooped for them were gone and instead of their screaming cries in the sky, the twittering of a robin sounded from the top of a spindle tree.
The fields below the hill were all cleared. One had already been plowed and the polished edges of the furrows caught the light with a dull glint, conspicuous from the ridge above. The sky, too, was void, with a thin clarity like that of water. In July the still blue, thick as cream, had seemed close above the green trees, but now the blue was high and rare, the sun slipped sooner to the west and, once there, foretold a touch of frost, sinking slow and big and drowsy, crimson as the rose hops that covered the briar.
As the wind freshened from the south, the red and yellow beech leaves rasped together with a brittle sound, harsher than the fluid rustle of earlier days. It was a time of quiet departures, of the sifting away of all that was not staunch against winter (470-471).
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