This week I have queued up some photos from a recent walk along Dunbeath Strath here in Caithness. These are very autumnal, with some glorious colours and light (I was rather pleased with how they turned out).

A few hours after I photographed these a strong wind blew in from the west, shaking leaves from the trees and heralding the arrival of early winter, or at least the departure of autumn.

There are still leaves (in many beautiful shades) adorning the local trees, but they are thinner now, clinging on to a memory of summer and longer hours of daylight.

Soon will be the dark time, the price we pay for living so far north. I enjoy it (though it does not always treat me well); it awakens within me an ancient flickering image of sitting beside a warm fire, wrapped in furs and knowing the snow is drifting outside the cave entrance. Well, maybe not an image, but a story.

And, at this dark time, stories are more important than ever.