Falling Leaves


I know a man capable of turning the falling autumn leaves to gold. He is an alchemist, no less.

Last November my girlfriend and I made an impromptu visit to see our friends Chris and Will Yates. There had been talk of fishing, so I brought a rod just in case. As it transpired, mine didn’t leave its tattered moth-eaten bag, and from the comfort of an old armchair, drinking orange pekoe and eating crumpets that oozed butter, I didn’t notice as time evaporated by the fire.

After swapping tales of old and new and in the midst of artwork discussions for Chris’s book ‘The Lost Diary’, it was promptly noted that due to the orange light that was pouring through cobwebbed windows, laces must be tied and steps taken to the outdoors, for if we didn’t venture then, we wouldn’t make a full round of ‘floop’, a Yates tradition.

Chris led the way negotiating the steep wooded hillside. We clawed and grappled at roots and branches until we emerged at the edge of the floop grounds.

quoteThrough beaming smiles and glinting eyes, we learned the origin of the game; the apparatus (an Aerobi and five conveniently positioned telegraph poles in a field); and the rules, which are not that dissimilar to golf. The aim was to complete the course in the least number of throws possible.

The tricky part was that the floop must make contact with each telegraph pole, in sequence. It became apparent that our friends had spent a considerable amount of time perfecting their floop swings, but what we lacked in technique, we made up for in sheer enthusiasm.

We roamed the leaf littered woodland floor, often staring high into the canopies chasing the occasional inaccurate throw. We all behaved like excited children. Whilst walking the course, leaves occasionally fell from the branches, scattering on the ground. Little did we know then of their significance.

As we completed our second round, we were ‘let in’ on a second Yates tradition, explained with as much fervour as the first. Before the beginning of each new year, a dozen falling leaves must be caught before they reach the ground in order to secure good luck for the following season.


Rarely do I manage to transcend the cynic within, but our friends’ infectious attitude for annual leaf jousting had left an indelible mark, and a few weeks later the opportunity arrived to adopt the game as our own. At a lake we were fishing in France, a heavy breeze forced the remaining foliage from the tops of the winter oaks down into our swim. We, ran, lunged and darted as the wind propelled leaves swiftly in all directions. A nearby angler eyed us cautiously as if we had succumbed to the madness of yet another blank. We caught a leaf for each month of the year and were better for it.


At times, I feel we can simmer on the surface of life because in some way our parents, family, friends and society, require us to marginalise our behaviour in order that we be accepted. There are few better equipped than ourselves to dissolve these self-preserved boundaries. When I give myself permission to leave their confines, I am at liberty to create myself anew.


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