This is a describing autumn worksheet to help teachers and parents. I hope you enjoy the post and can get value from it.
Many people have a dislike for autumn. They see it as a gateway to a darker world. The hour goes back, the shadows close in and stories of hobgoblins and spooks are told around fires again. September can be the most beautiful month of the year, however. Although the schools are back, the weekends still see lines of cars heading for the beach.
God’s daystar still burns bright, dancing on the ocean like faerie-fire. The sea sighs and sleeps in its blue robe before the late, autumn winds lashes it in anger. Barbecues sizzle and the smell of charcoal and burnt meat is mouth-watering. The days unfold slowly before the night throws up a galaxy of stars. They glitter and gleam like diamond dust in the velvet-black sky.
AUTUMN IN SEPTEMBER
The September mornings are bright and airy. Horses and cattle still munch and graze the fields. The horses snort and toss their heads, glad to be alive. Then they break into a gallop, their hooves thrumming across the soft, turfy ground. Some of the dawns are beautiful and you can see the mist rising like a dragon’s breath. It drifts up, circling the trees with its ghostlytentacles.
In the forest, the leaves are still spring-green and lush. The first dark spots appear on some of them as a warning that the summer is fading. Winter buds poke through the hazel and walnut trees. There is an opera of birdsong tumbling through the air and the world is a happy place. In the distance, you might hear the witch-wail of a jay, a type of coloured magpie. Because of the jay and the screech-owl, people in olden times believed that the souls of the dead returned on October 31st. We will come back to that later.
For now, the rivers run joyfully. They are neon-blue and bounce over the rocks, throwing up spray that looks like lemonade. The rivers are the highways of the forests and fishermen stand in them, hoping to pick up a plump trout. The trout can be seen in the gin-clear water, their speckled bellies heaving up and down. Their spots are the colours of the rainbow: yolk-yellow, bilberry-blue and plum-purple. Sometimes they break the surface, leaping into the air and landing again with a watery splash.
The mountains in the distance are not yet snow-cloaked. They are old and tired and punch the sky wearily. In a few weeks, a ring of snow will appear on the highest peak. An Alaskan-cold wind shall sweep in from the north and the first frosts shall crisp and shrink the juicy grass. Every animal that can harvest, hide or hibernate shall disappear for the year. They will escape the sharpfangs of Jack Frost and re-emerge in the cold, ancient light of spring.
Winter is coming and there will be a Reckoning.
- Which of the six paragraphs did you enjoy the most? Say why you thought it was the best.
- Give an example of five metaphors in the passage. Then try to replace them with 5 different metaphors.
- Write out your own story about why September is special to you.
- Replace all the underlined words with a different word or phrase. This exercise should be done in pairs.
AUTUMN IN OCTOBER
October is the month of fire. The leaves turn to magma-reds, hot-oranges and fever-yellows. The forest becomes a riot of colour and hard nuts thunk-thunk-thunk to the ground. Squirrels scrabble and claw through the crackly leaves, hoping to get one last bounty.
The sun is cold and pale, throwing down weak lances of light. The sun-spears do not reach the sooty heart of the forest, which is rayless and eerie. The moon comes out and creates a dome of soft light over the trees. It is a moth-moon and it hangs in the sky, as bloodless as a glowing pearl. Behind it, the sky is inky and the stars flash silver like ice-sparks.
When the squirrels go to their mossy beds, there is no sound in the forest. There is no insect-hum, no leaf-rustle, no wind-music. Instead, strange shapes appear, dancing in and out of focus. The sound of human voices breaks through the quiet glade. They carry torches which look like a row of fireflies. Bulls bellow, sheep bleat and dogs bark. It is October 31st, 500 B.C. in a forest in Wicklow.
The men are wearing the heads of deer, wolves and bear. Their voices are low and hushed and are grit-and-gravel deep. They do not shout as the souls of their ancestors are returning to the forest for this one night. Halloween is the night when the door to the Otherworld is open and evil spirits can be seen by the human eye. It is the only night where the Celts are afraid of the dark. A huge bonfire is lit and the struggling animals are sacrificed.
Three cups are passed around. One contains wine, one contains apple cider and one contains wheat beer with honey. Each Celt takes a mouthful and their voices rise higher and higher until the druid tells them to be quiet. He chants some spells and he banishes the fairies, the banshees and the shape shifters from the forest. Now they celebrate the end of the harvest and feast the night away. For in their calendar, tomorrow is the first day of winter, and tough times are ahead.
AUTUMN IN NOVEMBER
The leaf-stripping winds pass through the forest. They shriek and moan, making the branches creak and crack. The trees look like skeletons and the forest floor is covered in piles of mulch. The bitter winds are an omen for an even deadlier enemy coming to the forest.
Jack Frost’s glassy fingers are beginning to creep across the land. The first signs can be seen on the meadow grass. Dawn frost carpets the grass like frozen pixie-dust. It gleams like a million fallen stars. The trees are leaking orange blood and the scent of amber hangs in the air. Pine sap and wood gum ooze from the bark and the forest fills with its minty smell.
The lonely mountains are weighed down by a sky-bucket of snow. Smoke rises from sleepy villages and the sky turns a grim, ash-grey. Only the Jesus bird, the robin, wants to sing any more. He flies onto the highest branch and opens his beak, flooding the forest with his music. Although the winter will be tough, he knows that spring is only a short hop away. The forest goes to sleep for the winter, shrinking and tucking itself in. Only the robin is left to witness its cruelty.
- Which of the 3 monthly descriptions did you enjoy the most? Explain why.
- Try to replace the underlined words with a different word or phrase. Do this in pairs.
- Pick out the best three sentences and say why you liked them.
- Try to identify 5 metaphors and 5 similes in the passages.
- If you had to add 5 sentences, what would they be and where would you put them?
I hope you enjoyed the post.
You may decide to add more questions to the ones above. This is an extract from a new educational book. It is the prequel to ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ and is designed for the first year of secondary school.
For more information on my books, just click on the book images below. It will take you into the Amazon.co.uk book site.
USING COLOUR IN CREATIVE WRITING
The following advice and list of colours are extracts from the book ‘Writing with Stardust’ and the accompanying workbook by Liam O’ Flynn. For much more of these types of posts, please check out my new book Writing with Stardust by clicking the book title or image.
There are also 4 posts on Autumn at the end of the blog, from Levels 1-4. They might make it clearer on how to use the 5 senses in your writing. I hope you enjoy the post.
In this book, every colour in the grids is preceded with an adjective. It is up each individual, whether student or teacher, parent or lover of English, to make their judgement on this. In my opinion, an effective simile is just as devastating as a colour with an adjective. For example, it would be wonderful if a child wrote a battle scene that included the following lines:
“The sky was as black as an abyss. Underneath the starless sky, the faces of the soldiers were as white as a winter’s moon”.
Unfortunately, very few students are capable of this.
In the hints given in the ‘Narrative Styles’ section, reference was made to a painting. That is what a student should be encouraged to think about. Every planned page of descriptive writing can be seen as a blank canvas to be filled in. In time, the teacher or parent will find their child will start using a contrast of colours naturally. For a battle scene this might include: mercury-red blood, a bat-black sky and nickel-silver armour. For an essay on spring, it might include: an electric-blue river, a nut-brown forest and a paradise-green field. The student is now using figurative language. These metaphors will inject any piece of writing with the sprinkling of stardust needed for a better grade.
Underneath is a list of colours to help you get started. These are just some of the colours from the ‘Writing with Stardust’ workbook.
|10 basic reds||10 advanced reds||10 glittering golds|
1. Her sugar plum lips were berry-red and had a silky gloss. LIPS
2. The autumn leaves were gleaming in dragon flame-red. AUTUMN LEAVES
3. Her hair was brazier-red and tumbled around her swan’s neck. HAIR
4. The night sky was glowing in firedrake-red, a shepherd’s delight. DUSK
5. The sun was glinting like a shiny sovereign of aureolin-gold. SUN
|10 basic whites||10 advanced whites||10 greys|
1. The snow was crunchy and angel-white and detonated like Christmas crackers when I trod on it. SNOW
2. The old man’s hair was Arctic-white and his face was faded like parchment. OLD MAN
3. The vampire had cadaverous-white skin and blood-flecked eyes. VAMPIRE
4. Her teeth were a gleaming, calcite-white and she had luminous skin. TEETH
5. The clouds were cinder-grey and spat out dreary darts of rain. CLOUDS
Using colour in a passage of writing enriches it like no other technique can. The sentences come alive for the reader and by combining it with sound (onomatopoeia), you are catapulting them into your world. Here is a sample of what can be achieved when the 5 senses are combined in one paragraph. These are from ‘Writing with Stardust’ and they are Levels 1-4 from the ‘Autumn’ chapter.
LEVEL 1: BASIC SENTENCES
- The ember-redleaves of autumn burn slowly. COLOUR
- The huffing wind was too lazy to scatter the leaves. UNUSUAL WIND VERBS
- Clouds form like puffy plates. METAPHORS FOR THE CLOUDS
- The leaves area-flame in a quilt of colour. ARCHAIC WORDS FOR AUTUMN
- We enjoy chomping on blackcurrants. AN AUTUMN FEAST
- The fiery-reds cast a rich hue on the forest. COLOURS USING HEAT
- The ghost-grey skies of autumn change the mood. OTHER IMAGES FOR AUTUMN
- Autumn is a time to be afraid. SENSATION
- A larder of aromas drizzled from the trees. SMELL
- The wild berries had a savoury taste. TASTE
LEVEL 2: A BASIC PARAGRAPH
The leaves were molten-red. The yawning wind made them shiver slightly. Fluffy fleeces of cloud passed over the forest. The trees were a-flicker like night lights. A group of children were gulping on wild gooseberries. The blazing-brown dome of leaves gave off a nice glow. Owls haunted and hunted through moon-splashed trees. We were spooked by their swivelling heads and lamp round eyes. A perfumery of scents hazed through the forest. The ravishing taste of freshly baked bread stayed in our memories.
LEVEL 3: CREATIVE PARAGRAPHS
The barbecue-red leaves hang silently on the trees. Mufflingwinds deaden all sound in the forest and slow the billowy bells of cloud. The oak leaves arestill a-light, but barely. Dainty noses, sniffling and snuffling, glow the same mercury-red as the trees. They replace the sound of children slobbering over elderberries.
Fog-tinted fairy trees stand alone in fields, noosed by coils of dragon breath. A weak pitter-patter is heard, but it is not the sound of children’s feet. It is the centuries-old, hissing drip of raindrops in caves. Spiders flood the forest, clutching their snare strings tightly, their eyes a-glitter with hatred. Owl-light replaces daylight as autumn comes to a close. The seething energy of the forest becomes vow-silent as promises to nature are kept. The burnt-red leaves turn a smouldering-gold as the first of the heavy rains fall.
The rain drenches everyone. They are not the soft, sodden, swollen raindrops of summer. They are not the light, aerated mizzling of spring showers. They are plump, pregnant with moisture, ploppy and destructive. The long, straight streaks of cloud we call mare’s tails do not carry them. The skies are damnation-black and churning with anger. There is a cataclysm coming. It is time for daunting winter to display his wares.
The hotchpotch of aromas that graced the air is gone. The delectable, marchpane taste of the autumn harvest has faded from the palate. When the first snowfall comes, the world will be mummified in a powdery silence. It is time to be afraid again.
LEVEL 4: COMPLEX SENTENCES
Autumn is alien. The season of bumper harvests and swaying hay is soon replaced by Hallowe’en and horror. It is a portal to a time of dread, when winter’s suffocating skies throttle the land. At its most glorious, autumn is spectacular. The world is a-blaze in its fiery cloak of colours, from incandescent-red to lightning-gold. Then both leaf-flame and field-light burn bright one last time, ‘ere fading into the dying embers of their memory. The pyrotechnic show is over. The lifeless smell of monotoned winter invades the air.
Autumn starts with edibles exploding from the crackly mattress of the floor. Above them, the leaves become conflagration-red. It is the signal for ripened berries to fall from weary bushes. They make a phut-phut-phut sound as they hit the ground. Bronzed nuts, unhinged by the wheezingwind, go thunk-thunk-thunk as they fall like scattered gunshot.
The forest becomes an Abraham’s bosom for a few brief months. As the nights turn chill, the urge for food is rekindled. The sound of animals masticating on nuts and slurping on berries fills the forest one last time. Then they delve, dig and disappear in order to escape the coming onslaught. Clouds fill up the sky like vaporous veils, intent on causing mischief. The canopy of the trees is still a-smoulder, but it won’t last long. The sweltering-oranges, riot-reds and burning-yellows will soon fade. The waxing moon and the waning sun vie for supremacy. The sun, Gods daystar, is as luminous as his left eye. The moon, his night star, is as phosphorescent as his right.
Eventually, the moon wins the timeless battle of the ages. The molten-gold sheets of summer light turn into despairing fingers of moonlight. They poke through the trees rather than drown the forest’s floor. The straining light of the autumn moon creates a dome of soft glow above the trees. This lends an eerie glamour to their death sleep. The wind dies with the tree-fire on occasion, creating a terrible silence. There is no insect-hum, no leaf-rustle, no wind-music. The winged symphony of birdsong no longer rings out. In the rivers, the spawning salmon starve and die. The last dragonfly whirrups and flutters, his wings a-glirr in that magical space between river and mist. He too must die. It is the tragedy and the glory of the cycle of life.
Hallowe’en creeps up with sinister intent. Scallions still grow in the forest, but rapscallions come out at night. Jack-o’- lanterns leer at passers-by like fiery poltergeists. Visions of bogeymen and doom-witches steal into dreams. Accursed sounds lacerate the night sky and strange shapes enter the realm of the forest. Creaking trees become wailing banshees and screeching ghouls spill out of windy bottles. Phantom-eyed owls hoot and haunt the night, ghosting through moon-stained trees. Deadly nightshade, lethal larkspur and poison hemlock burgle through the forest’s floor. There’s sorcery afoot, an alien and arcane hex that prowls and poisons the land. It is easy to become unmanned by it all. The mackerel skies of autumn, fringed with halogen-green and laced with lagoon-blue, give way to the claustrophobic skies of winter.
The smorgasbords of scents that have whirled around the forest are all gone. The toothsome treats of autumn are locked up in larders so mankind can survive the winter. Sly shadows return to the land. Wizened faces peep nervously from condensation-veiled windows. Doors are locked, kettles hiss, and fires splutter and cackle in cold grates once more. Parchment-faded faces puff on their pipes and mutter about the coldest winter in aeons approaching. The fading sunlight gasps its last, moulded-gold breath and turns pale until the first daffodils bloom again.
All living things seem to shrink into themselves, shrivelling and withering. There is a Reckoning coming of Dante-esque proportions. Winter’s frigid fist is clenching and the last dragonfly seems but a flitting memory…
I hope you enjoyed the post and I wish you well.
For much more of these types of posts, please check out my new book Writing with Stardust by clicking the book title.