This is the moment when the year turns to gold. It is the first harvest. When the spirit of the corn retreats before the blades into the last sheaves of wheat. The essence of the sun, the spirit of summer, the promise of spring. All of these nestle within grain and husk, slumbering through the winter. It seems an eternity since the last harvest, and yet here we are again. I see the gold settling over the land and my soul longs for autumn.
It is one of the hottest days of the year and we drive past molten fields. Past verges stippled purple and yellow with flowers. Hay pressed into cylinders. Fields brown with ploughing and still green with crops. Sheep gather together in the meagre shadow of trees. It is Winston’s first hydrotherapy session since lockdown. We can’t enter the building so we wait in the car park for his hydrotherapist to collect him. A family is saying a final goodbye to their dog and we cry with them as they let him go. We wander the nearby lane while we wait for Winston. Sheep trot away as we approach. A hare bounds across a field of golden stubble. Winston returns to us tired but with a good report.
In the dene, the landscape is straggly and overgrown. Unmolested, wildflowers have grown into giants. Rowans flame with berries. The burn is virtually dry, flanked by monster willowherbs, dock and bulrushes. Raspberries droop from the foliage. There are rustlings in the undergrowth, among seed heads and thistledown. Butterflies spiral and meander, mostly whites and speckled woods. The occasional quick whirr of wings and soft tinkling calls are the only things that give the hidden songbirds away.
It has been a battle to get here, to walk along this familiar path. This time last year I was travelling to a writing conference. This time last year I had just given my first public reading as a writer. But that was an eternity ago. Now I battle ennui. It is a struggle to get up each morning. A struggle to stray beyond the end of the street. Work feels hard. Creation is even harder. But I am fighting. Battling my way out of limbo.
I sit by the pond. A woodpigeon fusses in the willow above my head. Two gulls glide in circles as though they own the water. One of them chases away a youngster that gets too close. Some years the harvest is meagre and hard won. This year there will be a harvest but it won’t be a harvest anyone could have expected. The seeds of early spring have led us into a new way of being in the world. We are uncertain. We know there may be more battles ahead But the seasons still turn. The land still turns to gold and the spirit of the sun is safe for another year to come.