Image: National Geographic
BY ANN RENNIE
Phillip Larkin asked Where can we live but days? and so I think of the unfolding alleluia as autumn slips into winter around me where the world slows down and we button up. In summer, we are a people on public display, wrapped up in sunshine and good times.
Now, we begin to huddle and hunker, bending into ourselves a bit, recognising a different breathing space shaped by shorter hours and the toddler tantrums of sudden squally showers. Our waking hours are coloured differently as a pastel sunshine hovers uncertainly above us.
The days pass as they always do.
Autumn turns footpaths into slippery russet runways clad with falling leaves. A new colour palette is seen in parks and gardens and on the slopes of distant hills.
Trees shed the foliage of brighter days, change clothes in public. Golds and reds and purples, the gilded shades of autumn, bleach as Winter catches its misty breath.
Autumn is a time for being mellow; nature recognises that the peak of the year is behind us and that we are in transition, preparing for winter.
The days draw in and the night air begins to get a nip in it. The warmth and refuge of home is sought more eagerly and the casualness of summer disappears to the northern hemisphere.
In Australia, the football and netball seasons add another rhythm to our weekends. We begin to wear scarves and long pants and the t-shirts-and-thongs uniform of summer is packed away.
Birds still sing in trees but their song is less constant and chirrupy; their chirp has become a little more classical, no longer the heavy rock of summer, bur songs with spaces and silences in them.
In literature, the season is often associated with the downhill run of life, but this overlooks the season as one of celebratory completion; the success of summer gave way to the richness of autumnal reward.
Time is ripe with recognition, of good times past and the good things ahead. It is the season for measured walks and slow perambulations, for noticing the changes in the air as leaves dance and swirl in suburban streets and children hurry home from school.
This is a time to count the blessings of scarves and soup and good thick socks; of seeing The Seekers in concert and Monet’s Garden at the National Gallery of Victoria and the hug of homecoming after a long day.
It is a time to thank God for the unexpected shape and colour and surprise of these, the days of our lives.
Ann Rennie is a Melbourne writer who also teaches senior students in a Catholic girls' school. Her book The Secret Garden of Spirituality (Reflections on Faith, Life and Education), was published in 2011 by Michelle Anderson. Flickr image from cowley_mail.
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