On the turn

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The sycamore knows what the other trees still only sense.  It has already turned, leaves ablaze against the green of its elders.  Already, its leaves are scattered on the grass, a fiery mat like a magic circle inside which autumn reigns.  Outside this world between the worlds, summer clings on.

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The insects know.  The last of them are greedy for nectar before the cold season begins.  A painted lady, suckling on the remnants of the knapweed.  A bee guzzling clover on the last meadow.   Wasps at their most clingy hovering over food and drink.  The garden spider squats in her impressive orb in my yard.  She will die with the coming season leaving a clutch of silk-wrapped eggs to hatch in spring.   The last of the swallows still swoops for insects to sustain her on her African odyssey.  Mobs of sparrows and starlings, born earlier this year, squabble in hedgerows and on pavements.   Yet though spring is long over, the piercing call of baby seagulls wanting to be fed is still a common sound.

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The flowers know.  Those few still in blossom are starkly bright, like star performers under spotlights.  Goldenrod and toadflax are reminders of the sun.  The willowherbs offer up a last glimpse of the colour purple.  But the plant life is now overgrown and messy.  It’s the season of seeds and fruit.  The seed heads are dry skeletons and furry tufts – the flowers doing all they can to reproduce before the dying season begins.  Berries take on the mantle of colour now, waxy spheres of crimson, black and orange.

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The weather knows.  Summer is wrestling with autumn for dominion.  It’s difficult to know what to wear for the best.  Put on something warm and the sun will be blazing by the time you come home.  Don’t wear a coat and it will rain.  The mornings are chilly and often misty.  The wind has howled a taste of what is to come.  The days are mostly still bright, but you can feel the change in the dark of early morning.

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And I know.  I can feel the turn in my soul.  I know it when I wake to the dark, cold morning and my body wants to continue sleeping.  I know it when I sense the mist in the air.  I feel it in the craving to wear woollens and to sit before the fire, even though the sun is shining outside.  I feel myself slowing down.  My creative cycle for the year is coming to an end.  There are fewer new ideas sparking.  I don’t have the same urge to fling my work out into the world.  Instead, I’m finishing projects where I can before the harvest.  My thoughts are turning towards reflection and renewal.  Most of all, I’m looking forward to the long, dark dreaming months, during which I can conjure new dreams for the year to come.

The colour of summer

Summer is a purple season: willowherbs, thistles and buddleia bloom in vibrant profusion, self-heal punctuates the grass, vetch curls its tendrils in the undergrowth, small clusters of viper’s bugloss and foxglove bloom in hidden spots.  The fresh whites and yellows of spring and early summer have given way to deeper colours in preparation for autumn.

Summer is a rainbow season.    A time for donning rainbow flags and fancy dress and taking part in colourful parades.  A season for  merry go rounds, bandstands in the park, celebration and frivolity.

Summer is a growing season.  Blackberries and rosehips are appearing in the hedgerows, green turning to orange, to red and deep purple.  Rowan berries are already ripe on the trees, while others are still green, waiting to burst.  But summer is also a dying season.  Many of the flowers that bloomed just a few weeks ago have already lost their blossoms.  Seed heads in browns, reds and ochres preview the autumn colours to come.

It has been a summer of searing temperatures, the sixth hottest July on record.  Humid, dry, too hot to do anything comfortably.  Coinciding with something of a fallow period for me.  An occasional sea mist in the evening the only respite.  The grain harvest has arrived early in the UK, with rape and barley harvests beginning weeks earlier than normal.  Wheat harvests are predicted to be bountiful.  Before autumn arrives we’ve been doing our last outside work, those final jobs in the yard to see us through the coming winter.  And despite that fallow spell, I have done some creative work: finished one painting and started another, drafted some short stories.

Lammas falls on the first day of August and begins the season of transformation, when, as the wheat is turned into bread and sweet treats, our projects begin to bear fruit.  This is the last tide to focus on what I want to achieve this year, before the reckoning of the final harvest on the equinox.  I spent Lammas thinking about what I have created so far this year and what I still want to do before the harvest.  I think about and give thanks for the work I’ve put in, but also consider what I might have to sacrifice over the coming weeks to achieve my goals.  The day after Lammas, a hint of autumn crept in: mist over the sea, rain, thunder and wind.  The first day in many that I’ve wanted to cosy up indoors.  But the seals are still on our island, a sign that the responses I’m waiting for on my novel might still come.

Summer is a season for recognition, for sharing your gifts with the wider world.  Inese, over at Inesemjphotography recently nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger award.  Inese shares some wonderful photos on her site and I particularly love her nature photography.  Pat over at Plain talk and ordinary wisdom has nominated me for the Butterfly Light award.  Pat shares inspiring stories that might be told around her kitchen table.  Pat and I took part in a blog hop recently, so you can learn more about her here.  Though I no longer take part in awards, I’d like to thank Pat and Inese for thinking of me and, instead of following the rules, I’m sharing links to three bloggers I’ve recently discovered, all of whom have a strong focus on nature and connecting with the earth.  At this time of the first harvest, I hope you’ll pay them a visit:

My wild life is about the adventures of a zoologist working in the Inner Hebrides.

Maia of the birds writes about shamanism, poetry and nature.

Partridge, Pine and Peavey is about the outdoors and the people who live in it.