I have reluctantly accepted the arrival of autumn. The shorts and t shirts have found their way back into the drawer and are unlikely to make another appearance until next year. For the first time in several months I am wearing a jumper. My Macbook is still causing me problems despite giving it a rest and respite from blogging over the summer. (NB. I appreciated the mails I received from a few of my readers for leaving them with a image of Dolly Parton from the last blog to reflect and mediate on over the holiday season and another of you who thanked me for not quoting her bra size ~ how would I have known that anyway!).
There is something quite melancholic about autumn as the leaves on the trees turn from green to brown and begin to fall to the ground. A reminder of our own mortality that one day we too will be decay and decompose. Speaking to our eldest grandson celebrating his 8th birthday recently, life is ahead of him. The sports that he is is enjoying can no longer be partaken of by his grandad for at 57 years old, gone are the days of contact sport. Tennis has taken the place of football and golf and curling have emerged as good but nevertheless substitutes for canoeing, volleyball and athletics. I have enjoyed the summer and am thankful for good health and feel fit and well but sometimes you look in the mirror and think who’s that old bloke?! It’s easy to assume that you are no longer in the prime of your life but I want to question that assumption.
Next month Shirley, my wife and I, will go down to the Cotswolds to see and hear one of our favourite musicians, Johnny Coopin perform an ‘Edge of the Day’ centenary concert as a tribute to Laurie Lee, the writer. Lee wrote the beautiful novel ‘Cider with Rosie’ recalling his childhood in rural Gloucestershire after the First World War. It chronicles the traditional village life that all but disappeared with the advent of new developments, such as the coming of the motor car, and relates the experiences of childhood seen from many years later. In the book he quotes John Keats poem, ‘To Autumn’ which opens with the line Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. The poem reminds us that autumn is a season of great fruitfulness and harvest. Keats saw autumn as a;
Close bosom friend of the maturing sun;
conspiring with him how to load and bless
with fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run:
to bend with apples the moss-d cottage trees,
and fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
to swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells
with a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
and still more, later flowers for the bees,
until they think warm days will never cease.
So though we may fear the passing of our prime, we can pose the question, ‘When is our prime?’ Fruit matures, it takes time to grow and ripens in season. And autumn can be a time of a rich harvest of a life rooted deeply and its fruitfulness can nourish others and scatters seeds of hope and new life to many more. May it be so of our lives.
Keats goes on in the poem to ask; Where are the songs of spring?
Ay, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too.
So autumn has its song, which may be tinged with melancholy, but as I tuck into one of its fruits, an apple, its polished beauty is beyond compare!
Enjoy this gift of autumn and may it bear good fruit in your life.
To read ‘To Autumn’ by John Keats, see: http://www.potw.org/archive/potw279.html