As the year turns, it is worth reflecting on how things change, and for what we have to be thankful. After such a glorious summer, the richness of autumn is now exploding, and this transition seems to be reflected in people too (the ones I know anyway). New endeavours are being embarked upon, prosperity is being enjoyed after struggle endured, and fresh horizons continuously appear. This, I believe, can also be true for anybody who looks with eyes willing to see the opportunities that are so tightly packed into life that they threaten to burst it at its seams. Opportunities to grow, to improve, to think, to understand, to be involved, to escape, to love, to cry and to laugh.
Personally, however, the colouration of the surrounding forest where I live signifies the approach of a hibernation of sorts, or is at least acting as its herald. The burning wildness of summer’s heat is being distilled by the still unseen winter, as if the feeling of gathering darkness and cold caused summer to dance one last time, frantically expressing its spirit in the trees and grass that have all been set on fire. Even as this autumn dance is being danced, winter’s grip tightens.
Days diminish and grow cold, the trees shed their leaves, and the red squirrels tear about the gardens, gathering as much as they can for the coming months. Even the light is suffused with a ruddy glow, made hazy with the smoke of bonfires and steaming breath. In the evenings, as the Sun slips behind the hill (if the skies are clear enough), a rouge, just like that of a dying leaf, is cast over the entire landscape.
These simultaneous processes – the riot of colour and the freezing of the year – create a beautiful, almost dreamlike, contrast, like hearing a song fade out at the climax. This is where I see a hibernation in the midst of all those new beginnings. The promise of silence is borne in the heart of chaos.
Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,
Will play the tyrants to the very same
And that unfair which fairly doth excel:
For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter, and confounds him there:
Sap checked with frost. And lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o’er-snowed and bareness everywhere:
Then were not summer’s distillation left,
A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass
Beauty’s effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was:
But flowers distilled, though they with winter meet,
Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet
Shakespeare, Sonnet V
Whilst Shakespeare is lamenting the loss of beauty with age, his words in the latter part of the poem communicate what I feel, except for the fact that he regards this passing of time as a terrible thing. For example, winter is not hideous, nor is the covering up of summer the same as the covering up of beauty. He does, however, capture with amazing subtlety the pure crystallisation of summer into winter. Flowers distilled, though they with winter meet, leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet. Right now the show is being fully released.