The First Day of Autumn

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.

2 thoughts on “The First Day of Autumn

  1. Janet Duke

    Dear Mike, Thank you As I live in Melbourne Australia we are now entering spring. It has been a long hard cold winter, the coldest for many years. It has been more complex for me as today is the sixth month anniversary of my dear husband David’s death. He suffered a catastrophic stroke as we entered the autumnal period. His mode of departure from this world was an answer to prayer. Quick and clear. He went from attending the Eucharist, he was a retired Anglican clergyman and I Quaker/ Anglican wife, to sitting in the sun and being joined by a group of Anglican men for lunch in a group named after him “The Warner Brothers”. He became blind, ordered ‘a dozen oysters natural” and had a catastrophic stroke all in the matter of five minutes. It was time for this elderly dear gentle man of God to return to his creator.Thank you for your blog. Your writing is evocative and allows others to be true to their story. Blessings Janet Duke

    Reply
    1. Mike Farley Post author

      Dear Janet, thank you so much for your comment. From someone who has just seen what I was writing about first-hand, it means a great deal. Strange how simultaneously right and hard such a death is. I found it so with my own (by then himself widowed) father, who died peacefully at the age of 82, having only just retired(!), sitting in his chair after lunch, listening to his favourite CD of Debussy piano preludes. It could scarcely have been a better death – but for we who were left behind it was hard. I suspect it always is.

      Every blessing

      Mike

      Reply

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