Shedding

On the day after the equinox, on the day light tips into darkness, it is on this day that autumn arrives.  It is my first day back at work and it has been a fortnight since I was in the park at 6am walking Winston.  For the first time since early spring it is dark.  Not completely.  The sky is cobalt rather than indigo.  Figures are vaguely recognisable.  But it is still a shock to the system.  Before we leave, a bat circles the air around us, the first I’ve ever seen in this park.

From a distance, it is clear that autumn has come.  Great swathes of green trees are tinged with a touch of gold.  There are beacon trees, flaming torches in the hedgerows, usually maples.  But up close, the landscape is still remarkably green.  Walking through the country park, it is the fireweed that offers the fieriest colour.

Last year gales ushered in the equinox.  The old poplar in the park was rent by wind, an enormous limb blown to the ground.  This year summer bleeds gently into the equinox and autumn steals in amid mist and rain.  I had longed for September, but it passes in a flash, the last of the summer washed away by rain, wind, mist and frost.  Spent raindrops form clear beads on hawthorns full of haws.  A trio of blackbirds bathe in an enormous puddle.  Raindrops dance the Flamenco.  Fungi has blossomed on the damp bridleway.  I count five species: more shaggy inkcaps than I have ever seen, a scatter of puffballs and others I can’t identify.

There is a different energy on a true autumn day.  The air feels thinner.  There is movement.  Not only of the weather and the leaves, though that is part of it.  The world is shedding, falling apart, but it’s a joyous shedding.  And then there are those still autumn days full of gold, when the sun lights up trees and teasels from behind and makes rosehips glow.  The dene is a riot of golds, reds and browns, overblown and overgrown, having a last chaotic burst before all the leaves are shed.  The grass is scattered with leaves of a different kind: pages from a book, burnt around the edges, shedding words into the landscape.

And the new season has given me energy.  I’ve submitted a dozen stories, revised a few more, started writing a new tale about poppies, the harvest flower.  With the rain and wind has come optimism.  My ears are clear and so is my mind.  The last year was gloomy, a struggle to get through, but now I’m shedding the year that has gone before and preparing to dream.


Blogger book of the month – Roads: a journey with verses by Smitha Vishwanath and Vandana Bhasin

I have accompanied Smitha Vishwanath on some exciting journeys via her blog.  I was there as she went through a huge life change moving from one country to another and became accustomed to her new circumstances.  And I was there as she embarked on a creative journey to become a writer and a fledgling artist.  She has now published her first book of poems with fellow poet Vandana Bhasin.

This book of poems by two talented poets promises to take the reader on a journey and delivers and epic trip. The journey in question is that of life, and the book is split into sections that cover many of the big themes we all face on that journey: courage, wisdom, love, strength, joy.   Both women contribute to each theme, offering a delightful contrast of views, imagery and tone. Smitha’s poems are intimate, emotional, drawing on a strength from within, while Vandana’s poems are open, assertive and sometimes confrontational.

The journey begins with ‘courage’ and it proves to be a positive and uplifting start. Smitha writes about daring to learn, fly, fail, even if the journey to success is not smooth. Vandana rails against rules and victimisation and demands that we drop the masks we wear. There is a nice rhythm to the collection. It moves inwards towards ‘wisdom’, ‘serenity’, ‘love’ and ‘joy’, then looks outwards to the world with ‘strength’, ‘compassion’ and ‘hope’. There are quiet moments and demands to be heard. There is sadness and joy, despair and self-assurance. And each poem is accompanied by a personal piece giving context to the verse.

Some of my favourite poems by Smitha are: ‘The Night is my Refuge’, a soothing poem about the restorative power of the night; ‘Treasure the Little Pleasures’, an evocative poem about the importance of small things; ‘Hush Daddy! Don’t Fear’, a moving poem about caring for an ageing parent; ‘Tender Moments’, a quiet loving poem in which a mother watches her children sleep; and ‘The Little Corner Room’ about a haven in her grandmother’s house.

Favourites by Vandana include: ‘Today’, an encouragement not to put things off to a vague tomorrow; ‘It’s all in the state of mind’ captures that dissatisfaction of wanting something other than what we have; and ‘Wings of Freedom’, a soaring poem about hopes and dreams.

The book ends, appropriately, with ‘gratitude’. Smitha’s ‘Promise of a new day’ is a beautiful meditation on things to be thankful for, while Vandana’s ‘Moments of Gratitude’ has the rhythm of a prayer. This book is an uplifting, enjoyable and emotional journey with two very engaging guides.

You can find Smitha here and the book is available on Amazon.

83 thoughts on “Shedding

  1. Your book review is poetry in prose form. I love your fall and am thrilled for you finding new energy and optimism. May your Muse be with your and several publications in your near term future. Happy Autumn to you and Winston.

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  2. Love your descriptions of Autumn. Nature truly is shedding her “skin”, preparing herself to eventually find new growth. Just lovely.
    And “Roads” sounds most interesting.

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  3. Thank you for this wonderful review of the book Andrea. I am so glad you enjoyed reading the poems. I love the way you’ve described the book in totality and the poems that you’ve shared here. Thank you Andrea for being on this journey with me- for the encouragement and the support. It’s nice to have someone around who knows what’s going on and does not fail to read your posts, no matter what. Thank you for being there❤
    Read your post on autumn and I love how you make it alive. It’s been confusing here too- deciding if its autumn or the end of the monsoons because its rained again. Was planning to write a post on it😊

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  4. Pingback: Book Review : Roads – A Journey with Verses – Pennings…One woman's journey

  5. Shedding, what a lovely thought. The autumn’s my favourite time of year. I never want summer to end, but by the end of August it’s becoming tired, washed out, I was going to say dusty, but these days it’s more damp. When autumn comes it is uplifting. Nature saves it’s finest clothing for it’s curtain call, then slumbers through winter and is reborn in spring. But it’s the shedding that’s grandest.

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    • My favourite season too George. I think the foliage is a little less vibrant this year, a lot of the leaves on the ground are green. The maples are fiery as always, but otherwise it seems to be the lindens that are putting on a show this year.

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  6. Beautiful!! 💕 I just love autumn and seeing these photos and reading your words just cements that even more for me. Where I live, it hasn’t gone above 43*f for weeks. It snowed one day, melted the next. Typical autumn shenanigans. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Always such a treat.

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  7. “The world is shedding, falling apart”…isn’t that the truth? One look at the news on television will affirm that statement. 😦 As always, I loved taking this walk with you. We are kindred spirits, my friend.

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  8. Lovely prose, Andrea. Those partially burned pages on the grass have my mind swirling with story ideas. Someone like yourself comes across these pages and picks them up, reads some of the words, and in the charred areas, secrets lie (or is it lay? 😜).

    Fall is just tinging some colors at the tips of the trees here. I went looking this weekend, but found only a few turning trees.

    You’ve been very productive. Good luck with your submissions.

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  9. I love your description of the world shedding; falling apart but in a joyous way. There is something joyous about autumn – the colours, the crisper air, the leaves crunching under your feet. It’s a time of transition and reflection. Thanks for sharing your walk.

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  10. Good luck with all those submissions, Andrea! How wonderful that you have renewed vigour after such a difficult year! I enjoyed this autumnal post very much; your descriptions are lyrical and your photographs are excellent, as always. Many autumn essays are tinged with sadness but this one is definitely alive and buzzing with energy!

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  11. Andrea, I am so happy to hear you are feeling much better and have fresh energy around your writing. Isn’t that the best feeling? I think we can learn so much from Nature. She sheds all that is no longer needed knowing that when she needs anything, it will be there. It’s much like the creative process or what Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls Life/Death/Life cycle. We would be wise to follow those cycles, too, without pushback. Ah–where did September go? I long for a longer autumn season. But thankfully, I also revel in winter. I come alive this time of year. May you dream well.

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  12. Hello, Andrea. A saunter through the Autumn woods certainly does clear the mind, unblocking its maze of connections. We should all be receptive to the many different signals that this wonderful season sends us. In case I don’t get the chance beforehand, I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year. Have a good’n.

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  13. Good to know that the autumnal changes, including the thin air, have allowed your creativity to flow. I am definitely revived by spring but we each have our own seasons, and autumn, it seems, is yours.

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  14. There has been a lot of rain dancing the Flamenco here recently. Hopefully this week’s sunshine will produce plenty of those autumn leaves to crunch underfoot. Life seems full of opportunities for a fresh start. Enjoy yours.

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  15. A beautiful tribute to a complex season. It has been a heavy year, hasn’t it. For me, the phase started last autumn (horrific struggle with letting go) and ended with this one, which feels so much lighter. A wonderful feeling of accomplishment. And, as you are also experiencing, a surge of creative energy. Here’s to shedding that which brings us down. Warmest wishes to you, Andrea.

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  16. The idea of fall “shedding” (smacks forehead on head)- why hadn’t I thought of that? It’s so true. Shedding the lushness of summer into a colorful departure of a season. It’s nice you see this shedding as joyous. I’m afraid I react differently. I mourn the loss of leaves, the darkness as the cold creeps in. But I’m learning – through you – to celebrate this season. And this is the first fall (since in New England, from CA) that I’ve been thanking the trees for their shade and leaves and life, and telling them that it’s fair that they need to rest now. Rest and rejoice in the buds of new life that will appear in the spring.
    Many congrats on your story submissions. That’s the way!

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  17. Andrea, I’m happy that there is light in your life after a gloomy year, that your writing is flourishing! Your autumn reflections are inspired and I too feel that “autumn steals in amid mist and rain.” September, usually a month of sunshine and warmth, disappeared from sight before it even started! Ahh … I love the sound of Roads, its concept. What a wonderful collaboration and it’s always interesting when there are personal explanations giving context to the poems. A lovely and thoughtful review!

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  18. Your autumn is glorious – we have nothing like it here. And your background color reeks of fall. May some of your dreams come true this season. Good luck on the submissions and writing. It seems a new beginning for you as you shed the past gloom. Cheers!

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  19. Autumn has hit here also. We’re in that magical period where the oranges, reds and yellows are vibrant. I love this brief time . . . I’m also choosing a tree to plant in the backyard in the spring. Paying it forward, as it will not really get big until I’m long gone from this house–but feels like a gift to a future gen:).

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  20. I see fall has finally arrived in your part of the world! I am amazed at the amounts of mushrooms growing in the grasses, and am enjoying the myriad of colors you walk among. It seems that when they change, it happens so suddenly – even though we wait so long – and then that brilliance is gone … yes, shed. The greenery has been hanging on seemingly forever here, too. Then we had Monday, a brilliant day of sunshine and a riot of colors, then rain washing so much away, and a faded clinging. Hoping we get some sun on the rich fall colors before they’re completely gone. Andrea, I wish you every good thought for a coming year filled with dreams and inspiration.

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  21. What monster burns a book! A true haloween tale if ever I saw one. I hope your stories do well, I always enjoy seeing you actually get them out rather than procrastinating like I, and so many other do.

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  22. WordPress really is being a terrible imp with my comments disappearing.
    But dear Andrea, this was well worth another read. I’m just sorry to appear late.
    I’m glad your energy was renewed, and hope it’s staying at tip top level.
    I love all the autum colors too, even though I don’t have very many of them here. My roses are still blooming and the big shrubs in back that have tiny purple flowers. However, the nights are getting cold now, so I don’t expect I’ll have the flowers much longer. Autumn in the high desert — I’m truly blessed.
    The book sounds lovely. Thanks for introducing us to it. Happy November! Hugs on the wing.

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    • Thanks Teagan. I had about a week of problems where I couldn’t leave a comment without logging in every single time. I tried with a different browser which worked, but fortunately it seems to have put itself right now.

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  23. The dark mornings and early arrival of dusk is the one piece of autumn I dislike 🙂 Other than that, you describe the beauty that makes this time of year so special ~ the electric colors, the incredible lighting which to me highlights all the beauty of nature so well, and above all your description of “The world is shedding, falling apart, but it’s a joyous shedding…” rings true. The shedding of the season brings a unique aroma to everything in nature. Thank you for the introduction to Smitha Vishwanath, look forward to reading some of her material. Wishing you a great finish to your time of year 🙂 Take care.

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  24. I always love your narratives as you describe the views and scenes as you walk.. Autumn is a glorious golden affair with have with nature, even though this year here especially has been on the damp side. When the Sun shines and reflects those hues of colour in the tree tops its Natures crowning glory of letting go before the Winter’s sleep..

    Loved your photos Andrea.. and thank you for sharing the blogger book of the month..
    Loved the whole autumn feel to your post and the calm colour of autumn in your backdrop to your blog..
    Sending Love and Well wishes..
    Sue ❤

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