Earlier in November on a peaceful day by the Arun river, autumn's beautiful, but fading, embers warm us with their season of contentment and mellow wisdom. Advent hope is in the air.
The sun may be fading, but today it gives one more smile through the lingering leaves. Willow puts on its sunlit autumn display and ivy clings to the wizened old trunks while sunlight catches the topmost twigs.
Birds at the Arundel Wetlands Centre are quiet except for a small group of geese flying overhead and a few ducks calling to each other.
The woods of this hangar, so full of birdsong in spring, are silent now. Some of the trees are still clothed in an almost spring green of fresh growth.
‘The spring, the summer, the childing autumn, angry winter, changeMidsummer Night’s Dream
Their wonted liveries, and a mazed world, by their increase knows not which is which.’
Neither do we it seems in this age of global warming!
Today a stillness rests in this valley under an almost cloudless sky, with just a wisp of white cloud. A precious break in a spell of wet and windy weather. The silence is broken only by the cry of a coot as it crosses the stream and the lone call of a pheasant in the woods above. A warm November sun bathes this place in autumn peace.
‘Having looked up from the days chores, pause a minute,From ‘A Day in Autumn’ by R.S.Thomas
Let the mind take its photograph of the bright scene, something to wear
Against the heart in the long cold.’
On the Arun river, which is partly tidal here, the tidal ebb is now flowing towards sea, but there are few signs of autumn ebbing yet. To sit here warmed by a welcoming sun is a reminder that, even in our disturbed world at war, it is possible to find healing in nature’s peaceful places.
As the low sun casts dramatic shadows and shafts of light along this lane, it’s hard not to think this is summertime.
‘I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellow, its colours are richer and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and is content.‘Chinese poet Lin Yutang
Homeward bound, these roadside beech trees in our road show off their autumn display. Today’s sunlit views are providing warm memories to ‘wear against the heart in the cold ahead’. It’s not hard on a day like this to be filled with:
.. thoughts of that unwearied loveWilliam Cowper’s ‘Winter Morning Walk at Noon’ (A new believer sees nature through new eyes)
That planned, and built, and still upholds, a world
So clothed with beauty for rebellious man?
…..Acquaint thyself with God, if thou would’st taste his works.
Admitted to His embrace, thou shall’t perceive that thou wast blind before.
Back at home, the garden outside may be washed out by a week or two of heavy rain and wind, but inside, protected by the greenhouse, it has had one more finale – these Nerines.
For the gardener the new season is beginning. Indoors, Christmas Cactus are already in flower. Here in this garden room, waiting in the wings, are Lachenalia (in flower already), Veltheimia, Cyclamen persicum (the scented wild form) and Narcissus ‘Paper White’ for Christmas. Tropaeolum tricolor, Schizanthus and Sweet Peas (in root trainers) are preparing for spring.
November is a month of completion and contentment. Earth is not dying, she’s only pausing in nature’s Sabbath rest of winter, waiting. November’s embers are full of promise. Christ’s coming Advent offers hope to this troubled world.