Sunday, September 23, 2007

Autumn Equinox



23rd September, and the light and dark of days and nights are equal for a moment; late summer drifting into autumn, the natural world drifting towards its annual death. But it does it so exquisitely that death itself is glorious.
The hedgerows are full of blue-black sloes, when winter comes the branches of the blackthorn will be witch black, coal black like an evil presence; the red hawthorn berries have a gentler hue, the leaves of the tree colouring into soft shades of yellow and orange red. The grasses in the field are shot through with brown ribbons of dead grass but viewed from the distance it gives a soft orange hue to the green. In summer before the second cut of hay, the wild grasses are a palette of soft browns, purples and silver shot through with the colour of white from the field parsleys and tall red-brown spikes of the dock flowers, if you examine it closely the tiny flower is yellow but overall the plant is a rich luscious tobacco brown colour.
The swallows are still here, wheeling about in their never ending pursuit of insects, in this aerial soup above the earth, insects are transported, perhaps gossamer light spiders. For they are also emerging, they weave their webs amongst the tall dead plants, here a wasp struggles feebly as a yellow spider winds her web tightly. She has positioned herself well by the cream flowerheads of the ivy, a source of nectar for the late wasp.
This morning it was confirmed that a cow has blue-tongue disease, a virus carried by midges, it has sadly made it across the Channel from the continent where it is rife, and arrived in Suffolk. Is murrain and plague to cross the land one wonders, foot and mouth in Surrey and now this second disease, both carried by the wind, nature may be beautiful but no law governs her, chaos and destruction are the gifts that she can bring as well.

I started with the equinox, the death of summer and light, but in the old farming world of yesteryear, food would have been harvested and stored, apples would scent lofts, dried herbs the kitchen, farm animals would have been brought into the byres and barns to face winter, somehow this modern world seems a much bleaker place to live in we are beset by worries and fears, all that technology gives is a faster route to news of disaster and despair, perhaps sometimes it is better to live in ignorance.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.


The last verse of John Keats poem - Autumn


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