How I found the special joy of nature in cities | Alice Vincent

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You have to look – and sometimes very closely – but discovering small patches of woodland or flowers bursting through concrete makes me appreciate nature all the more

One Friday morning last October, when we still could, I drove down from Brixton in south London to Somerset. It was one of those autumn days people anticipate in the midst of a sticky summer, with pillowy mist and low-lying sun trying to get through it. Even hurtling down the M3 was gorgeous; trees filling in the shade card between chartreuse and maroon, buzzards circling overhead.

I spent the rest of that weekend mentally checking off an autumnal bingo card. Woodsmoke from chimneys in chocolate-box villages; hedgerows on the cusp of change; woodpeckers flying over trees; that perfect nip in the air. It was delightful, and it was bittersweet. For the first time, I realised why people gave up the rat race to live more rurally. After a soggy few weeks in the greyest of Londons, autumn just seemed better out here.

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