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Ouroboros

Autumn Beech Leaves

Autumn Beech Leaves

As there isn’t much worth photographing around at the moment, this week we have a display of leaves showing their autumn colours. The interesting thing about autumn colours is that they are the result of the tree eating itself.

The leaves are usually full of chlorophyll – this is the stuff that converts sunlight into plant food. It does a good job, mostly, but as sun’s light becomes increasingly in short supply the chlorophyll is increasingly unable to produce enough food to keep the plant happy – so the plant uses up the chlorophyll. The green is sucked out of the leaves and they become the pretty autumn shades we find so attractive.

This cycle of birth, life, death, and renewal is something that has fascinated mankind (and possibly, for obvious reasons, woman-kind even more so) since the earliest times. The most ancient Egyptians we know, used the image of a snake eating its own tail to symbolise the mysteries of life and death. In China, the Taoist Yin and Yang is a stylised version of the same thing.  In Norse mythology the serpent Jörmungandr grew so large, it encircled the whole earth and held its tail in its mouth. Ouroboros has entered the lexicon of magic and alchemy all over the world.

But for us? It’s just a few pretty leaves on a bush down by the beck.

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