Deep blue sky, dew on the lawn, green, red, orange and gold in the trees, a warmer coat, perhaps a scarf, enjoying breakfast baked apples hot because there’s a slight nip in the air … beauty in autumn everywhere.
I’m told that our human eyes see ‘only’ a limited spectrum of colour. I can’t count the ever-changing colours and shades present to me in one small rural garden though.
I sometimes think I’ll spend the rest of my days pondering the miracle of what it is to be a human person, to be sentient. So many extraordinary ‘happenings’ need to take place within the confines of my brain to bring about every experience I have.
So, too, for the golden labrador next door. What moves her to bark? And how does an apple tree know how to consistently make apples every year? Or Michaelmas daisies know it’s Michaelmas?
Ah, colours. And questions. My Spanish teacher asks, ‘¿tú tienes preguntas?’
‘Sí, yo tengo muchas preguntas,’ I reply, ‘siempre preguntas!’
There are nights that are so still that I can hear the small owl calling far off and a fox barking miles away. It is then that I lie in the lean hours awake, listening to the swell born somewhere in the Atlantic rising and falling, rising and falling wave on wave on the long shore by the village, that is without light and companionless. And the thought comes of that other being who is awake, too, letting our prayers break on him, not like this for a few hours, but for days, years, for eternity.
R S Thomas (link) From Destinations, 1985 Collected Poems
Sometimes, in the ‘timeless moments’ of life, particular poets re-enter my heart and mind as counsel and comfort within a season. The late and deeply present R S Thomas has long told of the rising and falling of life’s great ocean, but also of the ‘nights that are so still’ – of an eternal calm. Images of such a calm have been beamed around the globe in recent days, and ears bend to hear the reassuring sound of kind wind – as the Scottish love song* has it – ‘like a bird on the wing’ across water.
… to look out of my window at the high pass makes me indifferent to mirrors and to what my soul may wear over its new complexion
Fleur Adcock Weathering
Yesterday, 10 degrees Celsius. This morning, a bracing, mind-clearing 2! But bracing and mind-clearing are good things, aren’t they?
It’s good to be awake enough to notice the changes that the passing hours, in every day, in each season, bring. There’s so obviously a ‘designed’ purpose and intent in the innumerable cycles of life and death on earth, and in us – mind, heart, body and soul.
It’s also true that most of us – all of us? – are less keen on the bracing elements and the ‘dyings’ in the midst of life; less keen on the being blown about – sometimes even brought to the ground – by capricious winds; less keen on shock or surprise; less keen on streaming eyes and having forgotten our gloves; less keen on ‘Weathering.’
But the thing about a bracing morning is that our minds are cleared sufficiently to recall that there’s actually extraordinary beauty in the right here and the right now, and – beyond this season – that Spring will come …
Each season bears unique joys to us. There’s a mellowness about late summer / early autumn here that I’m always grateful for. A softening of the light. A softening succession of reflection at both morning and evening. A softening awareness of the importance of home – wheresoever ‘home’ may be for us at any given time.
Wildflowers have attracted hundreds of bees and butterflies so that the garden is full of the hum of satisfied pollen-seekers quietly going about their business. I’ve revelled for half an hour this morning in recalling a lovely Instagram photo I saw recently – of two replete bees, sleeping in the soft petals of a poppy, two of them together, because apparently they like to hold each other’s knees and feet while they sleep! Who knew? And the butterflies speak silently of the complex metamorphosing journeys they’ve been on. And so do I.
The red squirrels are stocking up supplies and I feel close to them as I stack the log store with sweet smelling kiln-dried ash for the stove. Occasionally split logs are reunited – or at least seen close to each other again – and their rings speak of their story too, and I wonder where the engineered oak boards of my little sitting room once flourished elsewhere, and from whence came this ash, knowing how well it will scent and warm home until it becomes whatever comes next.
The slant of the early sunlight illuminates the promises of the morning – and asks to be remembered should tomorrow be a grey day. And the colours of the garden flowers prompt thoughts of harvest – and especially, this morning, somehow, of the warm scent of harvest bread from a distance, far away …
Evening meals begin to move away from salad-stuffs, turning towards the more substantial – buttered and minted potatoes, greens and steak pie.
And after brisk walks, lungs full of fresh air, and daily reacquaintance with the long backbone of the Pennine Ridge and the Ullswater Fells – sometimes under mist and sometimes mirage, autumnal movement towards books and the piano again. The gentle, slow clip-clopping of horse and rider passing my window suggest that they, too, are inclined less to rush today and more to a quieter, calmer contemplation.
I know these gifts are important, and reasons enough for profound thankfulness in a world which is also beset with fear and wonder, a sense of separateness – between one human and another, and between humankind and other life forms too. I ask myself in late summer to make time to be aware of others – near and far, in peace or fear. I seek to be more aware of the gift of the breath in my body, and in every body. I wonder in awe at the sleeping holding of the bees’ knees, and the instinct that directs a red squirrel’s calendar. I celebrate the ‘I see!’ miracles that unfold into sunlight from the incomprehensible depths of wildflower seeds, and the life-story record written in the rings in trees.
And you and I contemplate the cyclical dying, and the rising of the light … 🌻🍂☀️