Summer is sliding away through my fingertips.
As much as I try and grasp onto warmth, the temperature continues to fall. As much as I squeeze daylight tight in my fists, the nights are dimming quicker than I can measure. I raise my head and try and trick myself that I’m looking forward to crisp leaves and riots of colour, but as much as the tingle of freshness on the air excites my senses, the truth is I’m a summer soul through and though.
There’s a slight melancholy in the September song. The month that starts in full bloom, rushing forward at full charge until suddenly summer seems to run out, a sudden stop after a sprint finish, gasping for breath. I wake one day and although it’s not quite autumn, summer has taken a very definite step into the background. Every new dawn, the heat, light and warmth are fading, filtered. There’s a new scent on the breeze, a promise of pitch black, inky nights and glittering frost on golden leaves.
I live for long days and heatwaves. I love the smell of summer, the luscious greens of trees in full splendour. The waves rising from baking earth. The treat of dipping hot, tired feet in cool streams. When summer begins to change and autumn comes to the fore, I feel something akin to that childhood memory of the night before going back to school, or more recently, sunday-night work dread. That lingering wistfulness, the knowledge that the first few glorious weeks of autumn, filled with chestnut browns and piles of leaves to kick, will soon fade into the pervasive dull brown slush of early winter.
Save for the bittersweet parting of summer, I’m not sure I mind the beginning of autumn so much. And even the beginning of winter, when instinct takes over and we hide away, with the rest of the living world, watching, waiting until the sun strengthens and rays peep over the valley once more. We conserve energy and stay warm. I like this – the synchronisation with the natural world, that indescribable, deep pull that proves we’re still animals, still connected to the seasons.
It’s late winter that gets me. Months of darkness, mist and mizzle. In the UK, winter days are largely dreary, dull and grey. The novelty of coats and scarves wears off quickly. A snowy week or two, then back to that temperate, damp slush once again. It seems that summer is over so fast, yet winter lingers, embedding itself in my mind and dragging me down with it. It seems endless and I pine for light.
But the earth still spins and the wheel still turns. When all seems frozen, under our feet time still ticks. I look for snowdrops, brave little shoots emerging from ground that seems silent, abandoned. I watch birds dropping in on migration, redwings gorging on holly berries, visiting for just a week then continuing on their journey. Their wings beat movement into the air, and before I know it, more shoots follow the snowdrops. The ground seems to soften. A tiny bud appears at the end of a branch. And eventually a ray of sunlight peeps over the hill, flooding the valley in soft light that strengthens and strengthens as the earth warms once more.