Today is the autumnal equinox and the time has come to say goodbye once again to the heat of summer and welcome the (hopefully) balmy days of autumn.
Pagans celebrate the the festival of Mabon tonight, a feast to mark the change of seasons and a chance to give thanks for the bounty of nature.
The name probably originated with the myth of Mabon ap Modron, a follower of King Arthur from Cornwall who was rescued from kidnapping and imprisonment by Arthur and his Knights so he could help locate a legendary hunting dog.
Apparently they quizzed all the forest animals in order to ascertain where he was being held and interestingly, Arthur and his men were supposedly transported to Mabon’s prison in Gloucester by a giant salmon, although what any of this has to do with the coming of autumn is beyond me.
We have our own personal Mabon animal staying with us from today. Roo, a sprightly, good natured eleven year old collie, who we occasionally care for when her humans are away, is lodging with us for three weeks.
It’s good to have a dog around the place again and it was as good an excuse as any to go for a stroll and snap a few shots of the first autumnal signs in the countryside, including the huge swathes of maize in the fields and the splashes of bright berries in the hedgerows.
To finish, I’d like to share one of the poems that actually stuck with me from school, John Keats‘ “Ode To Autumn”, along with another schooldays favourite, and somehow just as appropriate, Jean Michel Jarre’s beautiful album “Equinox”.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o’erbrimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad
may find Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies,
while thy hook Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flower;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.