**Words by Amber L-J**
My boots crunch on the autumn leaves as my light-footed companion rushes forward eagerly, his lead pulling me in tow.
As we reach the top of the hill, he pulls me toward the creaky gate. Our decision is finalised as the gate swings abruptly shut behind us, with a loud clang.
We are now down on the tow path which follows the canals as eagerly as he does; With his tail in the air and his nose on the ground, he traces my route ahead.
As we walk, the sun comes out from hiding behind the cloud-covered sky. With one hand gripping the dog lead, I extend my other hand in front of me, the daylight bouncing off my painted talons.
It is all so familiar as I stop briefly during our walk, out of habit, and begin to reminisce.
We are at the place where, in the spring, I had admired the resting swans.
During the summer, they would sit on the bank and I would eagerly throw food offerings in their direction. Both fearsome and beautiful, the swans glided across the water, their long, snow-white necks snapping into the water hungrily. The surrounding trees now appeared to make space for the absent swans, arching outward, with their near-empty branches eclipsing the water.
I look behind the trees to see the wind sweeping up their fiercely orange leaves in the field beyond, further saturated by the low Autumn sun.
Blown forward, as I am now, into Autumn, I imagine the field that was once lime green with its new Spring growth.
I pull up my collar and forge ahead, focusing on the crunch of the leaves and their golden hues.
The abundance of summer, in all its forms, will return again.
**Article continued on page 2**