Only a few are left with any clothes on now.  It’s amazing how fast it’s happened! 

It’s amazing how you don’t notice things until there’s a sudden change in conditions, isn’t it?  One minute everywhere was green, then a cold snap, and sudden changes in colour, then wet and windy and leaves were everywhere, then some more hard frosts, and the trees are now almost all bare. 

Except for the oaks. 

They still have their leaves intact.  Some are changing colour, but some are still green. 

They now stand out from the woodland around my village because they’re the only ones still in leaf.  Autumn has suddenly been and gone in the space of 2 weeks (or so it seems) and I am gazing at an apple tree devoid of leaves, but with apples still on the branches. 

It made me think of people and how some folks stand out in a crowd when conditions change where they wouldn’t necessarily have been noticed in normal times.  There’s an enquiry going on into the July 7th bombings (happened in 2005) that stunned London and the UK, and some people are being revealed as amazing through their actions, thrown into the spotlight of media attention and human regard because of their selflessness or sheer courage in an appalling situation. 

Also coming to light are the less favourable, more selfish acts of people, but by far and large, what is coming through is an amazing human capacity of people’s ability to give of themselves and put other people first in life-threatening conditions. 

I am deeply impressed by so many people who were inadvertently caught up in the terror of that day.  You can only hope that, as an individual, you would act in such an altruistic fashion yourself, and still get out of it alive, but I guess we never find that out unless we are in such a situation ourselves.  It is under extreme duress that people show their true colours. 

A sobering thought, but also an uplifting one, as so many people from July 11th have shown.  Ordinary people living ordinary lives are infinitely capable of extra-ordinary acts of kindness, bravery and leadership.