There is a season…
Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.
I write this as sunshine spills through the window, spreading like a warm pool upon the floor. And yet through that window, I can see a fine dusting of frost on grass and pavements. It is mid-March, with Spring just around the corner, so my reflection this week is the circle of seasons.
Most of us have a favourite season, and many will say that it is Spring. The season of longer, brighter, and warmer days. A renewal and reawakening of nature and ourselves from the somnambulant state we enter in the dark and chilly winter months.
I, too, enjoy the brighter mornings and evenings of early Spring and the psychological boost they give me. It stems from those decades of late Autumns and Winters when I travelled to, and returned from, work in the dark. Then, as March progressed, my homeward journey was suddenly under lighter skies, and the lift to my spirits was palpable.
Also, as I have aged, I welcome warmer weather far more, meaning Summer has grown more attractive to me. But, of course, in England, Summer doesn’t offer any guarantee of sunny, balmy days. Although, that might change given the ever-warming climate.
One of the happiest periods of my life was the summer of 1972. ‘O’ levels were over. Thoughts of pass marks and ‘A’ levels were far in the distance. Some years later, my recollection is of long lazy days in the warm sunshine. Playing football, visits to the sea, bike rides (and on one memorable occasion riding a horse) and long conversations with friends on such philosophical topics of where we might all be in ten years from then. The irony is that as those ten years progressed, I steadily lost touch with all those friends. Things might have been different if social media had existed in 1972!
While I enjoy each season’s different offerings, if forced to choose a favourite, I feel Autumn shades it for me. I love the blush it brings to the countryside as we say goodbye to Summer and the gentle ambience that pervades all. As Keats put it,
“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”.
In pre-Covid days, I much enjoyed travelling overseas in early Autumn. The rush of Summer tourists had quietened. Residents wearied by the visitor flow and sated by heat seemed to welcome travellers from afar in a gentler way. One of my favourite sensations when embarking from an aeroplane in late September in Southern Europe was to feel the embrace of wrap-around Autumnal warmth. The rich perfume of sunshine in the viscous air.
As burnished Autumn chills to Winter, there is still the anticipation of Christmas and the opportunity to enjoy clear skies and crisp, finger and nose-nipping days. However, the later months of Winter drag on the soul. The interminable days washed of all their colour to a palette of greys. In those days, my thoughts turn to the warm reds and gold of Tuscany. Or Mediterranean sunsets of Orange, Rose, and purple. Then there is the ever-changing colour of the sea. To quote Van Gogh, “like mackerel, in other words, changing — you don’t always know if it’s green or purple — you don’t always know if it’s blue — because a second later, its changing reflection has taken on a pink or grey hue”.
I close with a quote from Albert Camus that I always favour.
“In the midst of Winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back”.
Whatever your favourite season, I trust it offers you something stronger and better in yourself.