HARDLY had the shrill echoes of the little Halloween ghosts and ghouls died away before we were facing the noise and light explosion that is Bonfire Night.
Dreaded by pet owners and nature lovers worried about the impact on local wildlife, the annual fireworks jamboree has become a more organised affair in modern times, with most November 5 celebrations run by local charities and other organisations.
But of course there’s a visceral delight in so many of those sights, sounds and smells of bonfire night, of toffee apples and burnt marshmallows, baked potatoes and warm chestnuts; hands stabbed by the sharp prickles of sparklers, cheeks red with the cold night air pinching our faces.
Bathed in woodsmoke and the acrid smell of gunpowder, our caveman origins come to the fore as we draw closer to the flames and huddle together for warmth and light.
November is a month of remembrance too, of poppies and poppy-strewn memorials, of old soldiers and wreath-laying ceremonies, of sombre thoughts of past battles and lost loved ones.
It’s also the month that sees a fortnight-long firework display of natural colour as the falling leaves provide a spectacular backdrop for autumn rambles before the first winter storms strip the branches bare.
The timeless Chilterns landscape offers such a wealth of different outings too, from ancient long-distance routes and drovers’ paths to simple circular strolls watching the red kites soar or catching a deer unawares.
For some, it’s the small details which catch the eye, from veins on leaves, unfamiliar fungi or seed cases strewn among the leaf litter.
For others, it’s the chance to get close to the mammals, birds and insects which inhabit this wonderland, always in the hope of that rare moment when time stands still just long enough for the perfect close-up of a or a hungry sparrowhawk.
Speaking of one of her November rambles a couple of years ago, Melissa Harrison writes in The Stubborn Light Of Things: “Dusk is my favourite time to go out walking. As the light fades, the night shift clocks on: rabbits come our to feed, owls call from the copses and spinneys, and foxes, deer and bats begin hunting as darkness falls…”
She goes on: “But there’s another reason I love to be out of doors at day’s end. Here in Suffolk traces of the past are everywhere, from horse ponds glinting like mercury among the stubble fields to labourers’ cottages like mine with woodsmoke curling from brick chimneys hundreds of years old.
“In the half-light of dusk, the old lanes empty of traffic, it’s possible to leave behind the present day with its frightening uncertainties and enter a world in which heavy horses worked the land, the seasons turned with comforting regularity and climate change was unheard of.”
Against the backdrop of the Thames, or those ancient woodlands and hidden holloways, the Chilterns is a similarly captivating landscape where time can frequently seem to stand still, especially at dusk and dawn.
Under our feet are the hillforts, earthworks and buried flints and pots reminding us that this landscape has been a focal point for people for thousands of years, an ancient and beautiful place where the whistle of the kite or bark of a fox can still keep us in touch with the natural world around us.
A big thank you to all the keen local photographers who have allowed us to use their work this month. If you would like to contribute any pictures, favourite moments or seasonal suggestions to our calendar entry for December, contact email@example.com on email or via our Facebook group page.