A Pre-Halloween Walk in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery

Dear Readers, it has been an especially wet, blustery weekend, and yet there is something about grey skies that makes the autumn colours look even brighter. There are some stunning and very varied trees in the cemetery, and I was glad to see them on Saturday, before the high winds blew half the leaves off.

Purple crab apple

Ginkgo leaves

Not sure about this one – the leaves look a bit like a tulip tree, which would be fantastic….

I should clearly have taken a leaf close-up of this one too, but I will do next week, unless any of you are super-identifiers. Let me know what you think! I barely know where to start. The colour is Japanese maple-ish but the habit looks wrong. Maybe I should do a guide to ‘trees in the cemetery’.

You might have noticed that after last year’s bounty of acorns, there are very few this year. I hope that the jays can remember where they buried them last year. I suspect they have good memories for important things.

And look! Sun!

The shadows are so long at this time of year….

And how I love this path. The brief sunny interval is warming up the bark on the elderly yews, and encouraging the last bees and hoverflies to feed and bask.

The sun is picking out the spiders’ webs, and if you look closely you can see little bright dots, which are the illuminated hoverflies, dancing for the last time before the cold finishes their brief lives. My thoughts turn increasingly to how ephemeral we all are, humans and yew trees and hoverflies. I hunger for those moments of feeling intensely alive and connected with the people and the world around me. Standing and watching these insects was one of those moments when time stops. I wish for more of them for all of us. I suspect that, at the end, our lives are actually made up of those splinters of time when everything falls away and we are completely present. They aren’t always the happiest of moments, but they are the most precious.

The sun touches everything, and makes it beautiful.

And if there aren’t many acorns, there will be an abundance of holly berries for the redwings and fieldfares. I expect to see the first of them any day now.

And look at this poor fallen angel. I suspect some bird has been sitting in the branch above her, judging by the splatters. If she wasn’t so heavy, and if I didn’t have a dodgy back, I’d be thinking about standing her back up. But then, the moss and the lichen and the ivy will take her back, I think. Everything in nature is ultimately about recycling: I am learning in my OU course how even the rocks have been transformed and recombined from previous rocks.

But I can’t leave without greeting the handsome Scotsman who stands on Kew Road, forever surveying the mid-distance. Someone has put a bunch of artificial mimosa into his right hand. What a handsome man he is, and how well-loved. I find it interesting that, although most of him has attained a green patina of algae over the years, there’s a pure white stripe on his kilt and leg. Did someone try to clean him up, I wonder, or is it something to do with the orientation of the statue? A mystery to ponder as the sky greys, and the raindrops start to fall again. But how wonderful to be back in the cemetery again.

3 thoughts on “A Pre-Halloween Walk in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery

  1. Sarah

    A lovely post, which chimes with my mood. I’m pleased to report I saw lots of redwings yesterday on Dartmoor, my first of the year.

  2. Claire

    I think the tulip tree IS a tulip tree. I remember reading somewhere that Marie Antoinette was very fond of these, anyway, we have a lot in the park here. The red tree could be a liquidambar( one of my favourites)…


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