Can you feel the change? Can you smell the move away from summer? Autumn is laying its veil over the land and kissing our cheeks with that familiar chill breeze. Everything’s sharper now.
Nowhere is this annual transition more noticeable than in our old woodlands as greens begin to fade, flora slows to a place of sleep and animals prepare for the cyclical shut down.
For me, Autumn joins Spring as a season that invokes a spirit of panic within. There’s so much to see, so much to feel, and, overwhelmingly so much to smell! If I’m not careful the few short weeks of true autumn can pass me by as I sit at my computer merrily typing away. Yet it’s at these pivotal times that we simply must make time for nature, there’s only so many of them that we can enjoy in this lifetime, don’t let this one slip by unacknowledged.
Dampness pervades the ground now, cloying leaf-mould mulches us as we explore the drip drip of autumn’s advance. The small things of nature come to the fore as summer’s abundance of vegetation yields to the call of closedown, clearing ground-space for the rarely noticed ‘simple’ plants to dance to their own tune.
I particularly love focusing my attention on a single square metre of ground for a while, delving deep into the minute inner cosmos of life that abounds there. Autumn is the prime time to do this, to lie low, close to the source, running fingers through soil, teasing loose bark from deadwood, carefully lifting stones and separating grasses to see what lurks beneath. Digging deep into nature’s heart refines the ability to peer at the small details of our inner nature, allowing a clarity and wisdom of introspection that needs a clear mind and a receptive soul.
Autumn is also a time of fruitful abundance, of laying down stores for the quiet times ahead, and preparing to be still ’til life’s cycle once again turns to the busyness of spring. Feel the wholeness of the haws singing out redly from the hedgerows, weigh their plumpness in your hand, handle the round, ripe rosehips, caress the smooth hardness of conkers and breathe in the breath of elderberries, if the birds have left any! Take your crop from the countryside, harvest hazelnuts and fill your basket with the blackberries that burst from every wild corner.
This is the time to eat of earth’s bounty and to ponder on your own personal harvest, marking your progress. A time to cut out the deadwood too, to say goodbye to what’s no longer needed before resting, awaiting the inevitable time of future growth as the passions of spring return.
Rich colours dress the trees. Leaves are shed as unnecessary burdens, turning gold and rusty as their life-force departs to the earth below. As green chlorophyll-filled life systems they sustained the trees, enabling growth and the creation of fruit. Yet they are cast off, not as useless rubbish, but as fodder for the continuing march of lives in the compost, and their chemical components will one day become tree again, rising aloft and seeking the sunrise of a new dawn.
Similarly we may have a need to let go of things which have nurtured us but may now have done their work, knowing that the benefits of what they brought will still hold value. By letting go we’re clearing the way for a new flush of leaves to move us further along life’s path of discovery and development.
Autumn is a season of harvest, of welcome clearance and joyful respite. Dive in and enjoy it!