Yesterday was the Autumn Equinox, and so, I suppose, today is the first full day of autumn. For me, this is a liminal time of year, the warm growth of summer beginning to slip down into a time of mist and recollection, the plants storing their energy in stem and bulb, reabsorbing their nutrients from the tinting leaves, mobilising the phosphates, draining down the chlorophylls. The squirrels are beginning their winter stores, and the smaller rodents are starting to put on weight. The year is at a crossroads.
I find it easy to keep still at this time of year, waiting for the changes, listening for gales. I feel as though I am sitting on some ridge of hills, watching the early morning mist pool in the valleys, seeping the way it does through gaps in the high ground.
There is so much we humans don’t understand about endings and periodicities, the cycles we live in and which live in us. We don’t understand I think because even the cleverest of us often turn away, unwilling to think of our own lives running down the way the photosynthesis of a leaf runs down through early autumn towards leaf-fall. How can we face, and accept, the changes that change us as they change the world about us? Endings are as natural as beginnings: old age and death are not some obscenity to be raged against, but our own part in the gentle (or less gentle!) pattern of end and renewal.
The light, despite Dylan Thomas, does not die, any more than the setting sun dies into the ocean. We move, from birth to death, death to new life; the light is constant, and we give back into the light itself our inner light, as the leaves give back their phosphates and chlorophylls to the steady tree. But there is great beauty in each leaf before it falls – the glory of autumn is yet to come, and the floods of gold and russet are its clearest song of hope.