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Posted on : December 30th, by
Autumn, Yorkshire Autumn, Yorkshire

This painting of Autumn was done by Vandana and is a memory of her visiting me in 2009. I was living at this house in North Yorkshire. The painting is dear to me. It is a painting of our home and she is looking at it from the fields around on an autumn evening. It captures the wide expansive farms, the green towering Howardian hills of Yorkshire in the background, the pretty farmhouse including the little shed on the side far away and most of all how it all looks like in depth of Autumn.

Old Home, Yorkshire Old Home, Yorkshire

When I look at the painting I think of the last 9 years spent in this house and Autumn leaves.

Autumn leaves Autumn leaves

We have moved only recently away from this house. So the painting is all the more poignant as a record of our memories of this place which was home to us for 9 years. While the move was stressful when I see the colours of this painting, all I think of is the happy memories of our lives here. Here our daughters grew up, went through primary school into secondary school, here they learnt to play music, ran on the roads, climbed trees, climbed the roof of the little outhouse and watched the sun set and played… and started learning to become young adolescents with thoughts and actions of their own.

This house is in North Yorkshire. We spent many a Diwali, Christmas, New Year celebrating old traditions and making new ones. We drew our first Rangoli in Diwali, our first Christmas trees, our first Chinese lanterns in New Year and so many little tinkering activities that lodge deep in your mind creating a special archive of memories….

I am reminded of a decorative piece we bought in Seifen in Rhineland, Germany. Seifen is a special place. If there is a place that seems to personify Christmas and one I think of often at this time of the year it is Seiffen. It is a little town in Germany where we had a lovely holiday in February 2012. The village was in a snow drift. The scene was magical but judge for yourself….

Seiffen Feb 2012 Seiffen Feb 2012

We had a wonderful time exploring Christmas pyramids – little pyramid structures with wooden dolls that moved round and round due to the heat from candles at the lower tier,

Seiffen pyramid Seiffen pyramid

the gorgeous picture postcard church,

Seiffen church, Feb 2012 Seiffen church

the nutcrackers,

Seiffen Nutcrackers Seiffen Nutcrackers

little wooden toys

Seiffen wooden toys Seiffen wooden toys

and the artisans who made them

Seiffen artisans Seiffen artisans

But the one that seems to connect to family life is this Schwibbogen we got on that holiday.

Schwibbogen showing multiple activitie Schwibbogen showing multiple activities

Originally made of black ore like this one the image to me speaks of a family going about its various activities. These images were made by tinkering coal miners in the depths of winter when it was too dangerous to go into the mines and they occupied themselves making little iron pieces for leisure and now for the tourist industry. It shows different occupations like the miners, their hammers, a wood carver to the right, a bobbin lace maker to the left but to me it seems to represent a family in various pursuits with the men folk, women and children occupied in everyday life activities blessed by an angel at Christmas.

At our Yorkshire home my memories are of us lazing in the summer sun reading books in the garden or newspapers – sometimes having evening meals outside. North Yorkshire is a beautiful place. It has rolling hills with gentle green expanses of farms. But it really does come into its own in Autumn. The colours on the trees go yellow and green. There are reds, browns and purples spruced in between too. Autumn walks have always surprised and thrilled me. The colours seem to take a life of their own.

Autumn colours Yorkshire Autumn colours Yorkshire

I am very much into colour. When I see a film, and this is particularly so in a Bollywood film, the colours of a composition move me. I guess it is the same for other people too. Even in a simple mirthful song sequence like “Zoobie Doobie” in the 2009 film “3 Idiots”

Zoobie Doobie, sonf from Bollywood film "3 Idiots" Zoobie Doobie, song from Bollywood film “3 Idiots”

It is a favourite film of mine and I have given the DVD to many of my English friends who have loved it. I love the colours in Bollywood films. In this song which is so light and airy, so are the colours. Whether it is the pink of Amir Khan’s turban at the start of the song or the orange saree of Karishma Kapoor clashing with the blue umbrella in the ubiquitous rain scene on Bollywoood songs I love the colour. Even the artificially blue cuckoo bird in the song has a lovely colour. I have never seen “3 Idiots” on a cinema screen but even on TV the colour makes a glorious impression.

And so it is with Autumn colours. When Autumn descends gently on earth it is as if a riot of colours has burst but in slow motion. Suddenly it is upon you and you realise autumn colours are here. For me, I seem to realise that Autumn has begun only a few days into the season when suddenly all around me the browns, reds, yellows replace the faded grandeur of a light pale green and play mischief. It is a perfect fusion of science and art.

Autumn colours Autumn colours

When I read about the science behind the colours of Autumn I am fascinated . As a kid I was thrilled by the knowledge that chlorophyll in leaves used light as an energy source to create sugars and produce oxygen into the air . It was some years into medical school that I one day saw the similarity in the structure of trees and human lungs. They seemed to be a negative to positive copies in reverse…. much like the negative film to a positive print in photography are similar in topography but in reverse… and so it looked to me when I looked at the trees at my alma mater Saint John’s Medical College and the human lungs I was learning about. They seemed to be in perfect harmony, in reverse, complimenting each other. The trees took in carbon dioxide and gave out oxygen while the lungs did the opposite; the structure of the lungs was just a reverse copy looking like hollowed out leaves seemingly dove tailing into each other. The interdependency of life struck me. But I digress from autumn colours to chlorophyll.

Autumn leaves Autumn leaves

This beautiful pigment that gives leaves the colour green seems to stop working in autumn. Perhaps it is the shortness of the days, the tangential nature of sun rays, but the production stops and gradually the green fades and the yellows and oranges come out. Like the colour of the carrots these carotenoid pigments come out to play and influence the colours of the leaves.

Carrots Carrots – a source of carotenoids Autumn colours Autumn colours

And then there are other colours – reds likes in apples or purples like in beetroots and in some dark red onions. These altered colours have a different source altogether. They are formed new – unlike the carotenoids which were always present and are called anthocyanins And the science behind this new pigment formation is fascinating too. How the levels of phosphate reduce and an alternative mechanism kicks in and so these new colours come in

Apples etc Apples etc Autumn leaves in Yorkshire Autumn leaves in Yorkshire


What I have not figured out is why this happens. A dear friend, Ulrike, who knows about many things tells me “chlorophyll production ceases due to shorter daylight hours & drops in temperature….trees have thus evolved to shut down all but the most basic functions in order to survive as well as to produce carotenoids & anthocyanin to block the leaf arteries such that the leaves drop off – less ‘costly’ in terms of energy produced (ie less energy for the tree is produced by photosynthesis during the shorter daylight months but it is more costly for the tree to provide the leaves with energy)”.
However I wonder – Is it just a by product of nature resting its engines … or is this an evolutionary advantage to this process of a burst of colours amidst decay. I noticed the froth that this decay causes and the wonderful effects in the waters of this froth. Perhaps it is the humus of the soil that lends itself to such eye catching displays in its flow across gradients of water pressure and ebbs of the stream.

Humus Humus


Autumn is a time for reflection. – a last glorious burst of colour and life before the magic of winter sets in. Nice long nights, huddled near a fire, early morning haze as you drive to work, occasional condensation of breath in front of your nostrils. Winter has its own charm. It signals a turnover of a new life, a new year. And so it has been for us – this year.
This year we moved from the house in the painting to a new one. We are still unpacking but a lot of it is done. Our beloved books are out on the shelves, the musical instruments have started being used, the Christmas tree is up. We are making new experiences and new memories…

And may 2015 bring you, the readers of our random musings, good cheer and new memories and most of your memories be happy ones….

We hope you have lovely journeys and you take some time to share your journeys and thoughts with us @ vivaart. Please email

Happy New Year to each and everyone of you…

Autumn  in Yorkshire Autumn in Yorkshire

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