The weather this last few days has been absolutely glorious and today the country is expecting somewhere or other to break the records for September heat: the hottest it has ever been this late in the year. Up here we have the paradox of Summer clasping hands with Autumn. Everywhere you look, there is plenty, bright sun and yet the feeling – despite everything – of emptying out. The arable fields have yielded their crops and along the newly-dug furrows our seagull friends do homage to the newly turned-over earth which has nurtured the cast-aside cereal they can fight over and enjoy. The roads are choked with agricultural vehicles bearing grain to the store beyond Bamburgh where it is weighed and dried. Just outside the kitchen window our vigorous fig tree keeps putting out more and more branches, bearing the tiny fruits which will never be ripe enough to eat; we are grateful for the tree’s optimism and fecundity, results which show that no effort is ever in vain. Our apple in the front garden – far from ideally situated as it is overshadowed by several other lovely trees – is laden with rosy fruit; despite their size, they’ll be tasty and crisp, like last year’s crop. There are still plenty of colours out there, too. Though the wild roses have now finished flowering for good, their rosy-golden hips remain, both as food for the birds and as ornament to the world. The laden branches bend thoughtfully over the florets on the buddleia bushes, mostly brown now, and regularly dead-headed, but still a draw for the butterflies of all kids which have drunk from them hungrily over recent days. Nearby, other roses remain, cream and darkest pink; they will persevere for some weeks yet but their buds are increasingly unwilling to open, even when brought indoors. Several local families of swallows and housemartins are making the most of this Indian Summer, cascading across the sky and chattering wildly to each other as they gain confidence – and weight – when the majority, including our sandmartins, started their long journey in the mist and mournfulness at the end of last week. Thus, we are saying goodbye and good day simultaneously: things are different, but they are also very much the same. As Carl Sandburg wrote:
I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.
The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.
The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go, not one lasts.