Thursday, 28 September 2006

Equinox Days

Swallows improvise
A coda to the summer
On telephone wires

The opening bars
herald autumn’s symphony,
a fanfare of geese.

I’ve been doing a bit of time travelling over the past couple of weeks - my own personal TARDIS being a combination of my car and the road between North East Scotland and East Yorkshire. Unexpected necessity means I have been up and down twice in three weeks - eight hours each way gives time to observe the passing landscape.

It’s a bit of a contest between summer and autumn - which is further advanced? Earlier in the year, as the harvest was being gathered in, south was well ahead of north - now, with the turning of the season and the rapidly shortening days, it has swapped over, and the north has the autumnal ascendancy. Travelling up and down, I find myself moving between the seasons. Here in the North, the leaves are already falling, crisp brown and yellow, filling the guttering and clogging the drains. The autumn fogs lie heavy, hiding the hills and clinging in the river valleys, clammy in the residual warmth. Wearing a jacket keeps out the wet, but is too warm yet for comfort.

South, in the one short week between my visits to Mum’s place, her Virginia creeper changed colour from green to crimson, scarlet and orange, burning up the side of the house in one last defiant outburst. The leaves there haven’t fallen yet, but will soon lie in brilliant drifts along the driveway, waiting for the garden vacuum and the collection bags where they will lie through the winter, turning into rich leaf-mould for the garden. The hedgehog leaves tracks in the heavy dew on the lawn, but we haven’t seen her recently - too busy with motherhood, we suspect. The hedgehog box will be installed soon, to provide a snug retreat for her winter hibernation.

The country seems to have been split; south of the border the summer lingers with sunshine days and kick-off-the-duvet nights. Driving through it reveals ploughed fields and stubble, and the last calves of the year with their mothers. As the evening descends, straw bales rise like ancient monoliths, black against deepening blue. North of the divide, there is rain. The sky hangs low, like a grubby wet dishcloth, spray and rain mingling on the roads. Safety lies only in the dim gleam of red tail-lights, for little else can be seen through the mist. Returning home, I wonder if there has been a power cut - even the flares from the gas terminal are invisible in the thickness of the murk - only the occasional glow of houses as I pass reassures me that there is still a world beyond my windscreen.

Evening’s fading light
shows monsters in the hedgerows.
Gorse becoming ghoul.

In my eye’s corner
tree becomes giant, stone wall
turns to crocodile.

Sunlight cannot show
this hidden face of the land
only dusk reveals.


Anonymous said...

mad, how utterly and completely beautifully you've described the season. gorgeous and vivid. thank you. *smooch

mackie said...

yes, not a postcard, but a painting. thank you for this trip back and forth between seasons.

Tats said...

All this and Haiku? You're really spoiling us!

It's nice to know that you got some enjoyment out of your recent move into long-distance haulage. It felt to me as if Autumn is about 2 weeks late this year, but I can feel and see and smell it coming on now, and you've captured that autumnal atmosphere so well here. Love the second haiku - beautifully catches the way commonplace bits of the landscape become sinister in twilight.

By the way - the word is "zmmpoj" - which I think might be Russian for middle aged spread...?

Anonymous said...

Mad, thank you so much for sharing your journeys and your wonderful writing!


GfM said...

Autumn is the best season and you have put it so well, Mad! I wish I had your writing skills :green: