Exploring is an innate human condition and today I felt a primeval urge to just explore. No time to set a course or work out a route that needed a map or indeed to jet off to the Alps, the Amazon or the Antarctic! Where I was heading for I didn’t even need to use the car or travel on a bus. All that was required was a short walk as I was heading on a meandering wander around a local country park. The catalyst for this action were rays of sun seeping through the curtains with the promise of a blue sky. This I thought would be a perfect combination to add a dimension when recording, through photography, the fleeting transition of autumn, that of leaves changing colour. Leaping out of the chair, closing the lid to my laptop and grabbing a jacket I went out of the door into autumn.
This action is also a transition, one of moving from a warm room to outdoors into a temperate climate for which I needed that jacket. Sure it wasn’t cold but cool enough to require an extra shield to allow another layer of air to be trapped. Yes, that jacket was indeed required for yet another transition associated with autumn that of the drop in temperature. Once outside I headed to cross the major road through the village, then down a footpath and over a footbridge which passes a house with an unusual window. To the side of this house the brook flows past and within a few yards I was in the fascinating environment of Meadow Park. From the outset my pace was slow as this wasn’t a physical fitness walk but one where I was engaging my mind with the view to being mentally fit.
This weekend England was a third of the way though autumn according to the astronomical calendar  but there was only a sprinkling of its effects. Just as I hoped my timing was on target to see the cusp of this transition of colour change in the leaves of trees. However, there were also a few trees that had lost some of their leaves and these were spread sporadically on the grass and scattered across the tarmac surface of the pathway. Along this first hedgerow interspaced with trees and shrubs birds were making contact calls. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually see any and with my inability to identify them by their calls they were somewhat a mystery. These bird calls reminded me of Jack Cox discussing natural navigation in “Wayfinding and the Stars” a chapter in his book “Camp and Trek” . In this he recalls when Spencer Chapman was travelling with the Inuit Indians they used the call of male Snow Buntings to locate their way back home after a seal hunting expedition. Male Snow Buntings have their own distinct call and the Inuits were able to differentiate these to enable them to make the correct turn inland from the sea to their camp. Luckily for me I didn’t need to find my way home using bird calls otherwise I would have never got back!
Leaving the tarmac path to venture off-piste I walked from grassland environments into small wooded ones and then realised these were also transitions. Hitting a small path I decided to follow this not knowing where it would take me. Continuing on this path I entered another small wooded area and suddenly I halted. There was something I saw out of the corner of my eye which begged me to stop. Backtracking a few steps I found a path at a right angle to the one I was on. Looking through the trees there was a structure and moving closer to investigate it was found to be a small railway tunnel which took on the appearance of an Inca relic from a rain forest with vines hanging down and other forms of vegetation seemingly growing out of its fabric. No doubt others have been there before me and this was evident by the graffiti on the tunnel walls but this was the first time that I had been here. Later in the day I found by chance the following quote and thought this brings into perspective why we need to explore even places on our doorstep.
“The point of going somewhere like the Napo River in Ecuador is not to see the most spectacular anything. It is simply to see what is there. We are here on the planet only once, and might as well get a feel for the place.”
Throughout the day I was constantly making observations with a view to obtaining photographs of not only colour changes to leaves but patterns of leaf fall and the juxtaposition of leaves and trees against the blue of the sky. Also anything else that caused me to stop, frame and visualise an image. These included pathways, close-ups of leaves and autumn fruits.
I so enjoyed a day of exploration that I did another wander the day after. Here though it was a more purposeful venture as the sky was even bluer and I wanted to take a few more photographs especially of that railway tunnel. After this task was accomplished on the homebound route discovery was very much by serendipity. However, perhaps this further exploration was inspired from watching Peter Jackson’s King Kong film, in particular the scenes from Skull Island, the evening before in the hope of finding either a relative of Kong or a dinosaur! The very act of exploring brings out our imagination whether it is to a far corner of our planet or a place close by.
 Autumn according to the meteorological calendar begins in September and ends in November. In the astronomical calendar, the beginning of autumn is marked by the autumn equinox which occurs around the 22 September and ends on 20th December.
 J. Cox; 1956; Camp and Trek; London; Lutterworth Press
Reference to Spencer Chapman relating to the Snow Buntings is on page 114