07 December 2011

To everything there is a season

Today it is raining and the air is heavy with the scent of the tide from the nearby sea. (We are nearly like an island, after all, with over 400 miles of coastline.)  A thick balmy wind blustered around the cottage most of the night, strangely warm for all its fury.

I truly love this time of year! The scents, the colors, the mindset. The earth turning in on itself, getting ready to settle in for that long winter half-sleep. Russet and golden leaves scattered over the pavement like a Persian carpet. The sharp scent of woodsmoke on the air in the night, rising from people's chimneys. The chilly air that settles around the cottage as the sun goes down. The sweet smell of rotting plants and the damp musty soil, still soft enough to work with a spade though not for long. Soon it will be like stone underfoot. Impossible to imagine anything growing in it! And yet, like a dream or miracle it will soften again in the spring rain. But for now? For now it's getting ready to sleep, tired after a summer of sustaining so much beauty, so many blossoms, so much color and scent. Time to rest and replenish itself. 

Darkness is settling in so much earlier these days. Twilight comes so quickly. Too dark, too soon. The sun is angled off to the side, all day, as if he, too, is tired and can't hold his head up. The burial ground looks lonelier now, with the falling leaves scudding in the wind and the trees nearly bare. Wind in the cemetery is always sad I think. It makes me wonder if the dead can hear it, like a lonely whistling or moaning over their heads. The bare trees make it easier to see the acres of headstones and monuments, the marble angels reaching heavenward, the stone maidens with their arms outstretched to strew flowers over the graves. Black ravens sit in the naked branches overhead, like ghoulish caretakers or guardians. They seem to live there, although I can't be sure. Each morning I hear them - cawing and swirling overhead in flocks, flying up the road from the burial ground and finding their way into the trees nearby. And then at dusk, they make their way down the road again, clouds of them, with their raucous cries, disappearing back into the burial ground. Strange.

I always think of reading as winter nears, and of being inside by the fire, with a shawl around my shoulders and cups of tea and piles and piles of books nearby. All of them waiting for me and the long dark months ahead when I can read quietly as the world around me dozes. It's a time for settling in, like the earth, and being only half-wakeful. Dreamy and quiet and restful. 

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