First day of Autumn... some reflections


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Autumn begins today with the equinox marking a time in the year when day equals night. This is a time of balance before dark wins over light as we head towards the longer nights of Winter. There are many signs the new season is here: we have put extra layers on the bed; we have ordered a supply of logs; we are harvesting apples and organising their storage; we are tidying up the plants and taking away the last vestiges of their growth now turned to decay; I have picked a few figs and made little fig and almonds cakes; there are plenty of berries in the hedgerows and I shall go and pick some blackberries later.

Summer is now a “has been”: there is evidence the season was but is no more. The wheel of the year has continued its journey round and round and Summer has come to pass. The sun's autumnal glow has a different quality and intensity and there is a chill in the air. The trees are losing their lush, fresh green as their leaves begin to display golden tones instead. With all this in the landscape outside, comes an inevitable and completely natural feeling of loss and sadness in our inner landscape too, if we care to notice it. The autumnal equinox gives us an opportunity to notice this and a permission to feel the grief of what has been lost. Often, these are feelings that we prefer to avoid: sorrow and sadness are painful. Yet, it is important to acknowledge, welcome and even momentarily surrender to them. Only when we have done this, can we learn to integrate them as part of our inner landscape and use them as a resource rather than something to avoid. This enables us to remain in balance mentally and physically.

After nearly eight weeks here, the reality of what I have lost and left behind has hit me and I am feeling all my losses acutely. I am sad to be living so far away from our (young adult) children; I am missing my friends, our supportive chats over coffee and fun evenings out; I miss the familiarity that had come with having lived somewhere for 15 years; my identity and place as a professional has also gone (even if only temporarily as I will no doubt forge a new one for myself here). I knew it would happen at some point and I know it is a completely natural and healthy response to the big life change we are embarking on. I love our new life, our new house and the whole project no less because I feel as I do right now… in fact, I do know that going through this sad and sorrowful phase will make me love it even more as I embrace both the joy and the sadness in my life, both the strong and the vulnerable in myself and both the tough and the beautiful in our life on a secluded smallholding on a Welsh hillside.

At this time of the autumnal equinox, I am aware of the balance between light and dark and I welcome it. I grieve for Summer ending and at the same time look forward to the natural splendour and richness of Autumn with its glorious, deep colours of red and gold and plentiful harvest. I grieve what I have lost and look forward to what is to be gained: cosy evenings by the fires; family and friends visiting; baking, bottling and preserving the harvest; sewing curtains, blankets and cushions to make us warm and toasty in the house; making new connections and learning about gardening as I begin volunteering at a local RHS garden; joining a local singing group; making plans for livestock; making the smallholding what we want it to be...

This is an adventure, both challenging and exciting, which also means it an opportunity for growth, change and fulfilment for both of us, individually and together as a couple. A very good friend of mine, who knows me well, gave me a plaque as a leaving gift that said “LIFE is about moving on, accepting changes and looking forward to what makes you more complete”. This is true more than ever and something to reflect upon on this first day of Autumn.