Season Of Mists……

It’s that time of year when someone trots out that opening line –

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…”

Every year I think to myself that I really must learn the rest of the poem, but I never do.

Here is the poem in full:

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves 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,

For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,

Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

Steady thy laden head across a brook;

Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,

Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too –

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.”

Quite honestly, I don’t think the rest of the poem lives up to its opening lines. I do like the last two lines though. Shame about all the bits in the middle.

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The Dawn Chorus

A few mornings ago as I was lying awake at 6.00am, wondering whether to get up, I heard a bird singing. And it occurred to me that I haven’t heard the dawn chorus at all his year.

It’s too late in the year now as birds tend to sing the dawn chorus in Spring when they are defending territory but, earlier in the year, I didn’t hear it at all.

Until about six years ago we had several large shrubs in our front garden. One was so large it almost qualified as a tree. We had them all removed to make way for,the block paving of the drive. After they had gone, I realised that this was where our early morning birds had congregated and now, by their removal, we had deprived them of their perches. And not only their perches but also a valuable food source – the berries in the winter and the insects the birds fed on throughout the year.

As I look out of my window now I see that so many trees in our road have been lost. For houses with such small gardens it’s surprising how many trees we used to accommodate. But, as properties have changed hands, new owners have wanted to make their mark and, in many cases, have ripped the garden out and started again. No-one else has turned their garden into a car park as we have but neither have they planted trees or shrubs to replace what’s been lost.

The End of Summer

It’s still early enough in the year, on the first of this month, to still be clinging on to the tail end of Summer. But how quickly the season changes throughout the month. It’s as if Summer is being packed away; the vibrant colours of the flowers slide into the warm russets and reds, crimsons and golds of Autumn. A few dry leaves lie scattered around the garden and the first immature windfall confers begin to appear under the trees. Wisps of smoke float through the air as the first fires are lit and their warm acrid scent permeates the atmosphere. It’s the month of the Autumnal Solstice when the year begins its hectic rush to its conclusion.

I always feel a sense of peace as September gets underway. The year draws to a close, the days draw in and the nights get longer. Comfort food is back on the menu and warm, woolly jumpers, hats and gloves appear from the back of the wardrobe. I feel at one with the pace, the rhythm and the predictability of the season.

There is also, though, a sense of sadness. The year dies and it’s a reminder of our own mortality. The year will be born again, but not us. We continue onwards towards our own inevitable conclusion.