Lingering

Autumn winds sweep in for a few days, making leaves dance and whipping up dervishes from cut grass.  But the winds can’t sweep away the summer sun.  It is still warm, dry and lazy.  Bees and hoverflies still throng dandelions and sow thistles.  Wherever I step, wasps drowse on the grass.  Speckled woods have replaced painted ladies.  Monster docks sway among the reeds in the burn, the most vivid bronzes and coppers of the season so far.  Two swallows dart over the grass.  Mallards and moorhens float on the pond.  A bird cheeps in the bushes.  Branches bleed with raspberries, rowan berries, rosehips.  The burn is dry, pools still and clear.  I struggle to feel the essence of September amid the lingering heat.

Two glorious weeks of respite from work, but not a straightforward holiday.  My wife is recovering from surgery and I have an ear infection that leaves the world muffled.  But a holiday at home has its advantages.  There is none of the upheaval of packing and going away.  There is the simplicity  of sleeping late in your own bed, pottering and preparing for the crossing between one season and another.  I prune and weed and get rid of rubbish.  Plant a late season rose bush and lavender to fill some empty pots.  I worry how many more of my rose leaves will be eaten.  But I have been pleased to see more insects than before in the yard, particularly moths.  A huge house spider in the bath heralds spider season.  I begin to notice all the tunnel webs on old walls.

On the day of the Harvest Moon, I take a walk back in time.  The church I went to as a child is having an open day.  I haven’t been here since I was nine or ten, when we moved, but I have a couple of clear memories and I want to know if it’s as I remember it.  Walking the streets I grew up on, I pass the traditional bakery, now derelict.  There is no sign of the corner antiques shop where I used to pet Sarah and Spencer the two St. Bernards.  The upstairs flat I lived in, with its floor length windows has been combined with the flat below into a nondescript house.  The sweet shop we used to visit for a 5 pence mix up appears unchanged, but you wouldn’t get much for 5 pence now.

Across the road from the church, the hall where I went to Brownies has been converted into an expensive house – sold off by the church as it was too expensive to maintain.  The church itself is not so different.  I clearly remember the chancel with its iron gates and grey marble floor, carved choir stalls and a relatively simple altar.  I remember the stone pillars in the nave.  But what I didn’t recall were the windows.  Three pairs along each side of the nave, commemorating people who were important to the church’s past.  Above the altar, a triptych of arches: Mary with her spectacular blue, star-studded robe, flanked by the fieriness of the other two windows.  I sit in a pew and enjoy the silence.  I watch trees flutter behind some of the windows, shadows blooming in the coloured glass.   My memories of being here are actually very few, but the building itself is clear in my memory.

Later in the week, an old-fashioned trip to the seaside for fish and chips, ice cream and 2 pence slot machines.  The bright blue sky and wispy white clouds signify a summer day, but there is a slight chill in the breeze.  A handful of swallows dance over the waves.  Two herring gulls perch on gutweed covered rocks.  Out at sea, the ship Aegir might be servicing the wind farm or perhaps extending it.  It will dock at the marina later and I’ll see its crane towering above the roofs in the park.

The sycamore in the park that always heralds autumn is definitely dead.  It has remained bare all year round.  But the new whitebeam has survived.  It boasts orange berries and frilled leaves.  Someone has piled a moat of cut grass in a circle around one of the cherry trees.  Perhaps they remember last autumn when, for a time, it became a portal to another world.  For now, the world still belongs to summer.  I have had the fire on for the first time this season.   At times there is a chill and the air is grey.  But summer lingers, never quite crossing the threshold into autumn.


Blogger book of the month: Alethea Kehas – A Girl Named Truth

Order a Girl Named Truth on AmazonAlethea Kehas is a writer and healer, who writes poetry, memoir and spiritual pieces among other things on her blog.  A Girl Named Truth is a brave and beautiful memoir exploring the nature of truth. The starting point is the author’s name – Alethea – which means ‘truth’. As a child, she feels that because of her name she has an obligation to be truthful, but this is no easy task when she is unable to distinguish the truth of the stories told by those close to her and when their emotional demands cause her to fear speaking out. The author’s life is defined by a mother who runs away with her and her sister, away from her biological father, to set up home with a stepfather the author is in fear of. The memoir explores abuse, bullying, conditional and unconditional love and ultimately healing. The subjects in this book aren’t easy and I felt much sympathy for the dilemmas and events she must face. But nevertheless I found it an easy book to read and wanted to go back to it, hoping for the healing it would bring. The author is clear that this is the truth as she experienced it and I was glad that by the end she had found a resolution and acceptance which was both moving and hopeful.   You can find Alethea here and her books are available on Amazon.

115 thoughts on “Lingering

  1. Last year, when I wandered the neighborhood where my Ma grew up…across the street from the parish church…I was amazed at how it stayed the same…I could feel the peace of her growing up years and it felt like ‘home’ even if it wasn’t my own, really.
    I hope this visit felt peaceful for you…

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  2. Your lovely words spell out the magic between seasons, on the eve of autumn here we find ourselves socked in by continuous rain with blurred vistas of rust and red, heralding a season I hope will bring some of that summer warmth back!

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  3. I hope your wife is recovering well and that you regain your hearing soon. I had a cold in June and have only just got mine back!
    I loved this essay, Andrea! ‘Lingering’ is such an apt title for this wonderfully dreamy piece of writing. And your photos! ….. Lovely!
    I see you are reading ‘The Easternmost House’. Juliet Blaxland’s mother is my friend Cordelia who lives just down the lane from me. We are all very proud of Juliet!

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    • Thanks Clare, I always find ear infections one of the worst, but fortunately there’s no pain with it, just feeling deaf! That’s lovely that you’re friends with Juliet’s mother – I’m reading the book slowly as I’d looked forward to it for a while!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful photos. I am partial to stained glass. Your fall sounds very much like ours this year. Summer does not want to yield. At least the light has shifted to the golden light of autumn as the humidity has almost disappeared. Lovely book review. Hope your wife is feeling better.

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  5. Beautiful photos and recollection of the week. This time of year makes one want to hold on a little longer to each moment, doesn’t it? We are having a few days of Indian Summer here and the caterpillars are flourishing. I’m calling in the year of the caterpillar! Thank you so much for featuring my book and for your kind words. ❤

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  6. Your posts are a sensory feast. It wouldn’t be possible in absence of consonance of one’s soul with the pulsating spirit of Nature. Introduction to Alethea Kehas and A Girl Named Truth stokes deep interest in the book.

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  7. I second the first comment. You do paint beautiful images with words. Thank you. I hope your wife is recovering fully and that your ear infection is better.
    I love the rock formations on the beach….very paintable. Janet 🙂

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  8. It sounds like you are making the most of your stay-at-home time off and really enjoying this time of year. The beach photo fascinates me–are those rocks? I’ve never seen anything like that before.

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  9. Another totally pleasing journey with you. I do hope you are feeling better. It occurs to me that you write better “ill” than many people do when feeling “well.” You have some serious talent, my friend.

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  10. What better to sit and relax in a silent church, to work in one’s own garden and to walk in a quiet local park. All great places in which to ‘linger’ and slow to nature’s rhythms as we watch the seasons change. Peace in our hectic world!

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  11. There’s something about going back home, isn’t there? I don’t know how to explain it. As we age, or at least for me, the hard parts of childhood get shrouded in brush, and the outer brush blooms with the good memories. I don’t live in the suburb where I grew up, but sometimes I pass through there, and the memories make me smile.

    I loved your description of how it felt to sit in the silence of the church. I recall similar experiences. I don’t attend any longer, but I do like to visit churches when they’re mostly empty (not during a mass or service). Funny how the church-goers are not there, yet I feel more life in the church when it’s empty. Do you live far from that church from your childhood?

    I also loved the photo at the seashore. It looked like ledges, or shelves across the beach. Do you live far from the shore?

    I hope you and your wife are feeling better. Ear infections can be painful.

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    • Thanks Lori, it is good to walk through the nice memories of childhood. I don’t go to church but like you, I like the atmosphere of an empty church – this one is about a 15 minute walk away. I don’t live far from the coast at all, this beach is a short bus ride away.

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      • Lori and Andrea – I can’t help but think of Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote about his love of sitting in the church before all the people entered and the beauty he found in those moments. Nice post, Andrea! Hope you are feeling better now.

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      • Interestingly I half overheard a conversation about that when I was there. I believe they were saying that there was nothing to stop them leaving it open as far as insurance was concerned, but there is still the fear that it would be abused if left open in this day and age.

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  12. The gateway between summer and autumn is always a time of nostalgia and melancholy. The summer sounds have vanished, but the warmth lingers. Your walk through your hometown stirred up memories of my hometown. Always a haunted feeling walking along streets of the past. Happy Autumn to you, Andrea.

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  13. A holiday at home is not too bad when you make the most of it as you did. Nice to go back and find memories in an old place – beautiful stained glass windows. May you and your wife be better when it is time to go back to work.

    First day of fall for us in Texas and it has cooled down to 90 degrees so that is a start for fall. Cheers!

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  14. We’re on the cusp here–although the past three days it’s been 85 degrees Farenheit, which is much more typical for July/August. The leaves are turning and that’s always magical to me. Love your photos!

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  15. You take us on the most beautiful journey’s Andrea walking in nature your narrative weaves its own magical spell as we wander through the flora and fauna with you..
    Yes spider season is upon us.. I have put out three from our home in a sheltered spot in the wood pile and hope they don’t get too wet today.. 😀
    Wonderful you were able to revisit the old church.. I love walking inside the peace and quiet of such buildings, if only to look at the colourful stained glass windows.. These days I have learnt God needs no temple.. and Nature to me is the best temple of worship.. Just my own view of course…
    Last week the perfect weather for the sea-side.. Oh fish and chips and ice-cream.. Yummy.. and 2p slots.. lol… You do not see many of those around today.. ..
    I have fond memories of when the Fair came to our village when I was a child and bag and pennies ( the old ones ) lol.. and the pull handle slots… matching lemons and if you got a cherry you got your penny back.. 🙂 lol..
    Wonderful post Andrea I hope you and your wife are both recovering well… Sending love and healing thoughts your way ❤

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  16. Lingering….. Perfectly describes the warmth outside despite the heavy grey skies and incessant rain. For the first time that I can recall, I noted Friday last (20th) quite clearly as the final day of summer. There was something special in that day. But still the warmth lingers.

    Lovely post as ever, Andrea, encapsulating the melancholy and wistfulness which are so evident in this time of year. I hope you and your wife are both recovering now 🙂

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  17. Beautiful writing and images, Andrea. Although getting away can be nice, a holiday at home sounds perfect! Hope your wife is mending well and your ear infection clears soon. ❤

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  18. I love those rocks, your writing is so evocative,and its always a pleasure to journey with you. I will feel like I should read your posts at night when I can relax fully, wrapped up with a whisky to keep me warm to truly appreciate your words.

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  19. We are having similar weather, Andrea. Summer’s dug in her heels and is reluctant to leave. Isn’t it always interesting visiting our past? what changes, what remains. The stained glass is exquisite. And the photo at the sea – what a fascinating landscape. Low tide, I gather. I’ve never seen anything like it. I miss traveling, so I enjoy and appreciate these forays into landscapes I don’t know.

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  20. Linger! Linger on, I plead. Here in New England, summer is fiercely holding on, refusing to release its grip on the sun’s warmth, the moths playing in the shadows, the crickets still cricketing through my open window, even now, 3 in the afternoon. Alas, the hummingbirds have left for southern places, knowing what I try to ignore. Fall is here. The sun sets so early already, and gets up later as well. But in the meantime, I’m spending hours more outside walking and breathing in the lingering air of green.
    I hope your earache is better, Andrea. I’ve suffered through them and they are horrible and make it difficult to relax and enjoy just about anything. But your break sounded idyllic and sweet. Same with the church. Something so ethereal and soothing about stained glass windows.

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  21. Pingback: Lingering ~Andrea Stephenson | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  22. Autumn has rushed in since you posted Andrea, certainly here in Jersey. You captured the dying days of summer perfectly. Poignant reminiscences too, reminding us that everything changes with time, though at differing speeds.

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  23. Good evening. Your expression is truly amazing. Each and every thing–the leaves, the insects and what not–has been filled with blissful life by your ingenuity, depriving them of the insignificance that we normally shower upon them.

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  24. The premise of that book sounds fascinating. Thanks for sharing. I understand this feeling of hovering between two seasons. It’s not as dramatic here, but still we have that feeling. I hope your wife is recovering fast and easily and that you get better, too!

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  25. Your prose is wonderfully descriptive and places the reader right where you were. I felt like I was walking the same streets you walked, and observing the same windows in the church. There are very few writers who have the ability you possess.

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  26. Lovely photos, Andrea. I’ve told you this a million times (I think), but your words are so hypnotic and lyrical. You paint an image using spoken melody. And you are so clear. Sometimes writing is beautiful, but overall, it doesn’t make much sense. You write beautifully with such clarity. This is such a gift to do both! I’m always amazed and awed by your words. I hope your wife is recovering, and I hope your hearing is less muffled. Churches hold such a dear place in my heart. I have a complicated relationship with formal religion, but find beauty in holy places. And what place isn’t holy? Take good care. x

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  27. I’m so surprised that I’m still seeing butterflies in my area. I would have thought they’d be migrating by now. I’m worried for them! Beautiful pictures! And I agree with you and Cheryl–nature is my church as well. 🙂

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  28. I just found this quote and am sharing it with you here because it reminds me of your writing, and it says so much about October. xo

    and now it’s October
    the golden hour of the clock of the year. Everything that can run
    to fruit has already done so: round apples, oval plums, bottom-heavy
    pears, black walnuts and hickory nuts annealed in their shells,
    the woodchuck with his overcoat of fat. Flowers that were once bright
    as a box of crayons are now seed heads and thistle down. All the feathery
    grasses shine in the slanted light. It’s time to bring in the lawn chairs
    and wind chimes, time to draw the drapes against the wind, time to hunker
    down. Summer’s fruits are preserved in syrup, but nothing can stopper time.
    No way to seal it in wax or amber; it slides though our hands like a rope
    of silk. At night, the moon’s restless searchlight sweeps across the sky.

    ~ Barbara Crooker

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