As imperceptibly as Grief
The Summer lapsed away -
Too imperceptible at last,
To seem like Perfidy -
The thought of dark days to come, of ever decreasing hours of daylight, of chill winds blowing and rattling doors and windows, of trees flinging off their leaves like so much unwanted ballast, and clouds racing under full, black sail, as if the sky itself were mourning the passing of that light-hearted season of full-bodied warmth, scent and sound which is summer, lay a pall of sadness on my spirit. Winter will follow autumn and spring is a long time away. There is not an autumn when I don't think of the end of things, of shutting down and drawing in, a yearning for what was and never will be again, and feel a shiver of foreboding for what is to come.
It takes an effort of will to go out and look at the splendour autumn can bring. I may have to look a little more closely to find the autumn cyclamen, but they are there, like weightless butterflies of summer settled lightly on the fallen debris, their own leaves mottled and marked like green toads hiding under stones.
A Quietness distilled
As Twilight long begun
Of Nature spending with herself
Sequestered Afternoon -
Autumn brings a time for sitting still and thinking quiet thoughts; there is no feeling guilty now for hours spent reading or writing, when at other times of year I must be out, working and walking and doing. There are hearty stews simmering in the oven, and roasting root vegetables spread the delicious scent of well-being around cosy kitchens. Curtains are drawn against the gathering gloom and lamplight creates pools of light around comfortable chairs. Even the TV comes into its own now in our house; in summer it sits in its corner, sulking for lack of use during long, warm evenings spent out of doors.
The Dusk drew earlier in -
The Morning foreign shone -
A courteous, yet harrowing Grace,
As Guest, that would be gone -
But there are autumn pleasures to be had out of doors as well: soon it will be time to go and rake up fallen leaves and collect them into their wired enclosure, ready to provide leaf mould for the coming year; mounds of leaves, twigs and small branches must be piled up in out of the way corners to provide shelter for hedgehogs and other small mammals who hibernate during the harshest months; insect hotels must be created out of hollow bamboo, tied into bundles and tucked into forks and angles of trees and other nooks and crannies away from the prevailing winds.
And who can resist an autumn walk in the woods, shuffling through deep layers of fallen leaves, kicking and scraping delightedly at the musical sound of rustle and crackle and crunch underfoot. And if you are as lucky as I am you may choose to walk alongside a full-throated stream, swollen by early autumn rains.
Back in the fields, lambs in their winter woollies, all grown-up now, calmly feed on juicy pastures while shadows are lengthening; the passing visitor deserves no more than a curious glance from one of their number.
And thus, without a Wing
Or service of a Keel
Our Summer made her light escape
into the Beautiful.
As Imperceptible as Grief
Emily Dickinson 1830-1886