Title unashamedly stolen from Nicole at An Entertaining Mess.
August has not been great. It’s had some wonderful highlights to be sure, but it’s also had some stress and energy dips and significant upsets. Opportunities for posting have been few: either through other commitments or through lack of brain power. Although I have a few posts published in August, as the month draws to a close I have others as yet unwritten from July. I’m feeling muddled: on the blog; in family relationships; in the house, the garden, the car…. I’m just one massive befuddled muddle!
It will pass. And meanwhile, September approaches. I love September.
Already, as I write, there are signs of the turning seasons. Darkness falls fast and earlier; dawn breaks sluggishly and later. Days at the moment are blissfully warm, and the air is golden. Fields (including ours) have been cut and now lie quietly: yellow, dusky browns and soft ochres permeate the view. Nights at the moment are sharper, fresher, and leave us the gift of a heavy dew in the morning which takes its own time to evaporate, just as the day takes her own time to warm up. And afternoons have taken on a gentle, sonorous, soporific air.
As the year turns we are approaching a time of bounty and gathering. A time of making plans, but also a time of sleep and rest, of quiet and death. We have the biggest raspberries on the raspberry canes, some hiding shyly under a shady leaf, others deep pink and brazen in the sunshine . We have small glossy blackberries strung like jewels on the bramble patches. I have discovered a few sloes and two perfect hazelnuts – which almost certainly will have been stolen by now and hoarded zealously.
The birds and the insects already sense this change of pace, this change of focus. Small winged creatures drone as before, but seem slower and heavier. Where once they sang of industry, their song to me now offers a lament of fatigue and farewell. The birds are quieter too – with just the young buzzards still urgent and demanding and unceasing in their cries on the wing. The swallows are massing. Soon they will be gone, and with them will go the summer.
We have found ourselves talking about vegetable beds and fruit cages and planting a small orchard. How about chickens, or sheep? Pigs? Or what about alpacas? We have plans…. so many plans. Most, if not all, will go nowhere, but planning feels synonymous with autumn. For among so much else, autumn speaks to me of looking ahead brightly as much as it whispers of cycles slowing softly.
What is it that I love about September? The rare delight of an Indian summer day? The exhilaration of a sharp brisk early autumn walk? The colours; the freshness; the first frosts; the equinox; the dip in the scales when hours of darkness outweigh hours of light? The prospect ahead of hunkering down with a slower pace and a glowing fire?
All of that, and more. But most of all I think, it is the sense of change. Autumn and spring are partners in this respect. In both seasons we see change; we see momentum; we watch the earth waking to life or settling to sleep. In summer it is hard to look back and remember spring or look forward and envisage autumn. Summer speaks lightly but urgently of presence – of being here now, of enjoying the days whilst we may. In winter I may well look back fondly – or look ahead with yearning, but in the midst of winter it is truly difficult to genuinely put myself back into autumn or summer, or ahead into spring. I can talk the talk – but I can’t truly experience. Winter is weighty with presence; winter anchors us to its dark days and holds us there for as long as it can.
So yes, I am anticipating September. I am relishing the joys of autumn to come, and also the gift of time. Last September I stopped working. (I still can’t quite say ‘retired’.) What followed was six months of house-hunting and preparing to move; three months of moving and starting to settle; and three months of summer and wonderful visits from family and friends. This September sees the start of my second year of retirement – there, I said it! And with it – hopefully – the freedom and opportunity to move forward with the house; to bed down the garden; to explore more of where we are; to read and write and create; to develop new interests and reawaken old ones. And finally – please – to get the blog up-to-date!
“September days have the warmth of summer in their briefer hours, but in their lengthening evenings a prophetic breath of autumn. The cricket chirps in the noontide, making the most of what remains of his brief life. The bumblebee is busy among the clover blossoms of the aftermath, and their shrill and dreamy hum hold the outdoor world above the voices of the song birds, now silent or departed.”
– September Days By Rowland E. Robinson, Vermont