Wednesday, 29 September 2010

First Signs of Autumn

To quote from the Keats poem 'To Autumn', is rather cliched I know but it really is becoming the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" here in the secret valley. I have to admit until I decided upon the theme for this post that, although I had heard this line so many times before, I'd never read the poem. I suspect a large number of people would admit the same so I have included it here, in full, at the end.
.
Almost imperceptably, the leaves have started to turn colour although they are still more green than yellow, orange or red. The most noticeable sign of the new season has been the berries and other fruits. Despite the heavy, late spring frosts we had, it seems to be a bumper crop this year although I have heard that commercial crops of apples are down by 30%.
..
The river a few hundred yards downstream from our little stone cottage broadens to become a small lake, created 100 years ago to attract duck and fish for the pot. Invisible throughout the summer months because of the leafy shrubs that shield it, it gradually comes into view as the foliage withers and falls and the water levels rise with the winter rain. Then it gives us what one of our friends describes as "the best view from any bath(wash)room in England" - and it is! What can be more decadent than lying in the bath with a glass of wine in hand, watching the wild geese and swans flying in from who knows where, for we rarely see them during the summer months?
.
.
And it is the river and lake that tends to give us the mists on cool mornings. There is such a subtle difference between these mists and the fogs that are much more widespread across the country. We can recognise the difference instantly but how do we describe it in meaningful words? Perhaps mists drift to rise and fall as strands of it are caught on the slightest breeze, an uplifting experience for the soul, whereas fogs sit heavily both on the ground and on our spirits?
.
.
A few days ago, on such a misty morning, it was cool enough for a heavy dew to form transforming the scenery with its silver frosting. Cobwebs hung from every available perch: strands of wire, branches and twigs, even the dying flower stems of the wild plants were draped with them. The scene was of silence and stillness, no bird sang and even the brook seemed to gurgle and babble more quietly than normal, as if reluctant to wake the slumbering countryside.
.
.
.
As if to confirm the silence and emptiness of the landscape, even the new seasons swan, that I had admired on the lake the day before, had gone. Heavily in moult, all there was to confirm its arrival were white feathers slowly drifting on the surface saying "Hush! Be still. All is calm".
.
.
To Autumn
.
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-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 kernal; 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 cider-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.
.
.
Add to Technorati Favorites

8 comments:

  1. What a lovely post ... I so enjoyed the photos and your great descriptions of this beautiful area around your cottage. Unfortunately for me, I don't get to see the colour changing on the foliage as Autumn approaches ... there are no Autumn colours in my part of the world ... so I will enjoy your coming posts as you paint a picture of the Autumn in your corner of the world.

    ReplyDelete
  2. this is really lovely. What a shame if we feel that we can't still quote from that amazing poem...nothing written about autumn since really comes close.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Although, Bernie, as I get older, I seem to prefer the longer days of summer I cannot imagine life without seasons and the changing hours of light and dark. Winter has its benefits - clear, crisp days and warm log fires.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Gerry - it is a lovely poem. I always think that I don't care much for poetry but have come to the conclusion that I probably just don't like other people reading it out loud to me!

    Somehow, the right poem when you are in the right mood can move you in a way no other form of writing can.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Johnson-All I can say is, you definitely know how to live. All that you embrace and appreciate is pure heaven to me and I love hearing you recount it. Not to mention, you are in the place that I believe, is one of the most beautiful on this planet. Wonderful post, fitting poem...Happy October :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Many thanks, Elizabeth, for the kind words which are always appreciated.

    Happy October to you too!

    Johnson

    ReplyDelete
  7. Stumbled into your blog which reminds my few visits to Cotsworlds. I really love the region so much. Your photos are beautiful and as well the poems quotes.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you Terrie for visiting and welcome. I am glad that it brought back happy memories of your time in the Cotswolds.

    Johnson

    ReplyDelete