Monday, 24 September 2012

The Sadness and Joy of Autumn

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


  1. My god, Woman, You are on fire! That is some seriously beautiful writing. I savored every sentence.

  2. Beautiful writing Friko. May you find many small glimpses of promise amongst the dry leaves. Today, I found the first inch of the green blade of a future daffodil. I am jealous that you will have time to savour your seasons.

  3. ah love it...nice interspattering of dickinson....i love autumn....a brief splash of life and color before death....really a lovely view of it through your eyes as well...

  4. Autumn used to be my favourite season. The dying of things suited my teen gloom. These days, it's Spring! Which is here! In full swing! Sorry to gloat.

    I will miss hearty stews, chunky soups, roast vegies and chestnuts though.

  5. Beautifully written and lovely pictures.

    I replaced many of my tired summer plants with bright Autumn ones and in a few weeks I will put in my winter garden. Seeing new life out there and a change in scenery is a welcome sight. To everything there is a season........

  6. You have made me weep for the Autumn I shall miss, and for myself.
    Quite Beautifully done, Friko

    Aloha from Honolulu,

    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

    > < } } (°>

  7. The photos of your fall would definitely draw me outdoors, Friko. This description of cyclamen: "like weightless butterflies of summer settled lightly on the fallen debris, their own leaves mottled and marked like green toads" is so apt. We've already had a snow shower, so our fall will be brief indeed. But, if you live in a ski town, snow is what you most want to see at this time of the year. PS Since you're already making stews, I'm coming for dinner!

  8. Oh, yes...finding the first autumn crocuses...

  9. Absolutely lovely, Friko -- the pictures, the poem, and you beautiful evocation of this bitter sweet season. May it be warm and cosy for all of us.

  10. As a fan of Emily Dickinson, I recognized the poem right away. She's definitely said it for all of us, but your beautifully written words touch my heart, as well as your lovely pictures... thank you.

  11. An ode to autumn. Thank you. So much. Here we are in the midst of spring and each time I turn around the garden is raging. Truly beautiful, and needing more energy than I can supply. The weeds grow faster than the things I loving planted months ago. And summer is lurking just around the corner. Summer when the world wilts. When it is too hot to eat, too hot to sleep, and I turn into a troll and only come out at night.

  12. You have taken my breath away with the beauty of your reflective thoughts. You have masterfully woven this great poem into your own writing and photography in a way that touches my heart. You render me feeling unable to write a word of response because I feel as if I do not honor the English language at all with my own expression of rambling thoughts as I try to tell you that you are a joy to read. You bring solace to a soul that longs to express the same deeply felt emotions that autumn also stirs up within my being. Beyond that, I marvel at the richness of this wonderfully written piece.

  13. The anguish and the joy of autumn. Emily D. expressed herself in verse, you equally eloquently in prose.

  14. Hello:
    You capture so well the essence of this particular time of year. And yet, and here we have no wish to sound arrogant, we really do regard this as just another period of the year, another piece of our lives, to be savoured and lived as fully as is possible with all the joys which it will surely bring.

  15. I am so choked up I almost didn't leave a comment. I was going to quietly pass by.
    Retired English Teacher has so beautifully written my feelings.

  16. Summing up so nicely what autumn feels, smells and looks like... Thank you!
    But please, don't ever feel guilty for sitting somewhere, reading or writing, when you "should" be out, doing something else - who says?!

  17. Frico, I loved your words about walking "through deep layers of fallen leaves"-I like to do the same when I see a lot of Maple leaves! Also you write about clouds: " clouds racing under full, black sail" It's very impressive, poetic!

  18. Sehr schöne und treffende Beschreibung mit angenehmen Fotos eingerahmt...

    Lieben Gruß

  19. Hand in hand with Emily Dickinson. You've entered autumn in some style.

  20. wat woon je toch in een prachtige omgeving.

  21. Wonderful pairing of Dickinson's lines and your lovely shots. I do love autumn with her magical light and vibrant colours.

  22. Your write
    so beautifully.
    I have put away summer clothes
    enjoying sweaters and a jacket on these super cool mornings.
    Did not realize I was tired from all the outdoor grooming.
    This is a time for me to rest more, read and like you
    the television comes on.
    Today there will be chicken soup simmering in this cottage.

  23. Beautiful post Friko. I crave Autumn and Winter for the summers here in the sub-tropics are stifling hot, humid and buggy. The crisp clean air of Autumn gives me energy for the long hike in the woods, an endeavor I dearly love.

  24. I'm not a Dickinson fan...but this is a lovely post.
    I didn't have any favourite seasons when in Europe and don't here either...every day brings something new to notice and enjoy - even if I can't do it with your elegance!

  25. Absolutely beautiful. I have missed this soulful self. Dianne

  26. Oh Friko, this is sheer poetry! Being an autumn woman to the core, almost to the point of a lovelornness, I can't thank you enough for this vivid post.
    True, autumn brings along this strange mix of bittersweet emotions, and although I'll miss the sights and insights this year, I'm sure my blog friends would oblige me with a grand autumn view now and then.

  27. Dear Friko, like Teresa, I savored each sentence of this posting as well as Emily's poem and the photographs. You are, indeed, a fiery spirit among us! Peace.

  28. Such beautiful words and images Friko, both yours and Emily's! They made me ache for autumns past where I also enjoyed such cozy pleasures. In Florida, what I miss most is distinct seasons. They give a rhythm to life that eternal sunshine steals away. Enjoy your autumn, and hibernate for winter if you must, but all the signs are there that Spring will come again, though, as we get older we cannot help but wonder "Yes, but for us?"

  29. I look forward to autumn because it is like your summer here. Our winters are unpredictable in terms of weather and cold temps, but the day length is the hardest to deal with. I do miss the sun and I do find I become depressed unless I am careful. But I intend to make it to spring for sure!

  30. In the southern part of the US, Autumn tends to be our favorite season, such a relief after the horrors of summer.

  31. Beautiful - and even more beautiful as I set your words against the backdrop of your beautiful surroundings - so grateful that I was able to walk by the stream, see the castle, experience the warmth of the house.

  32. Oh vielen Dank für diese Arbeit. Hier waren es heute noch über 35°C. Seit Monaten kein Regen. Mein Sohn wollte unseren Bäumen Milch geben, damit sie wachsen.
    Morgen 24Std. Streik, und alle sagen, es wird Chaos geben.
    Welch Frieden dein Herbst. Danke.

  33. shelter for the hedgehogs and insects
    you are a dear one
    and we need the quiet nooks and crannies of Autumn ourselves
    to hibernate inward
    so beautifully written

  34. Such a beautiful meditation on autumn, and the way you weave in the Dickinson poem, ah! I don know what you mean by that closing down, after summer, but I hope one day you'll be able to come sit with us here and look out over the hills. This, particularly toward the end of October, is the most beautiful time of year here, bar none.

  35. that don is of course wrong, meant to be do!

  36. I grew up in the northeast USA and loved the 4 distinct seasons. Of the 4 I loved autumn most: not too hot or cold, crisp air, beautiful yellows, oranges and reds, and then the crinkly brown. Living in Florida I really miss that.

    I second everyone in appreciating your beautiful writing.

  37. What a nicely written piece. I'm playing one of my mind games about autumn . . . trying to make myself believe that this is the fertile time of year, as some believe. The seeds are nestling in, getting ready to pop in six months' time. I can't help feeling a little hopeless about the gray and brown days to come, though.

  38. Those Cyclamen look nice Friko. I echo your feelings about autumn leading to winter. Brrr! Fortunately we are enjoying spring here at present with summer to come. I just wish the warmer weather would hurry up and get here! - Dave

  39. Bitter sweet like the cyclamens, oh how you can write, woman!


  40. Oh what beautiful words Friko that would uplift any downcast soul.

    The above comment perfectly expresses my feelings; "oh how you can write, woman!"

    You surely can!

    Anna :o]

  41. I was feeling a bit sad about summer ending...even though ours was the worst one ever. I wanted the end of it to be like the summers in the past. But autumn is here and now, after reading your post...I'm excited about it and not thinking ahead too much.

  42. I love autumn. Would much rather be in a cardi than a tee-shirt. Such a shallow reason, I know, but it's true. And also next door have a tree that goes gradually redder and redder and I love watching it change into flame.

  43. Yes , Autumn .
    Doctor Who and baked apples , socks and the annual Knitting Of A Scarf .(Only you put it so much better than I do .)

  44. Lyrical writing, Friko. Every season has its beauties though sometimes they're not so obvious.

  45. An absolutely beautiful post. you've captured both the beauty and the nostalgia of the season. I want to come walk the fields with you!

  46. Hi Friko - I completely endorse everyone's comments - would love to have your learning ... enjoy your autumnal walks and slowdown to mists and mellow fruitfulness - gorgeous ... I'm briefly up in Leominster on Tuesday evening .. of to Penzance on Wednesday am ... I shall enjoy the countryside that I see - just hope the weather is kind!

    Cheers Hilary

  47. Little bamboo houses for insects? I've never heard of such a thing, but the thought pleases me. Even the insects need shelter, after all - and the cold winds are coming.

    The cyclamen are beautiful. It's still to warm for them to be in our garden shops, but in a month or so they may begin to appear, along with pansies and snapdragons. Such a world - we long for cold winds, and perhaps even a dusting of snow, but we have blooms through the winter.

    Such a lovely post. I do love autumn - it's my favorite season. You've reminded me of what I'm waiting for.

  48. Friko, your writing is wonderful - so evocatively poetic and yet precise. Sheer pleasure to read and savour it.

  49. What a lovely view of your world in these photos! Yes, autumn clearly brings a different mood, one I find more reflective and quiet. I was in northern Michigan last weekend and the colors were ablaze, the weather warmish and perfect for walking. But cool night, when a fire in the fireplace was necessary. We snugged in with our books (by those pools of light you so beautifully describe), a mug of hot tea in hand and oh! It was such joy.

  50. I love the way you placed the pictures , the words and the poem.


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