It seems like yesterday I stood here in my little garden listening for the first cuckoo call. And, now, a whole summer is behind me, not gone but going. August has always been the turning point for us on the island, that month when flower stalks push out less buds so that I can pick longer stems to delight the inside of my home. All summer long I have placed vases in each room so that on entering a person can breathe in a scent so heart-lifting as to whoosh out in a happy gasp. Contained inside thick walls of ancient stone, these chosen blooms can fill a whole room with the lush fragrance that still calls in a bumble bee through the open door, sending me a-dash for my empty jar and my postcard to free them once more. But only when they’re done sipping the nectar. I never rush them. They, after all, have a very important task to undertake. All that life-giving pollen, that golden dust, will help to ensure new growth next year as long as they are free to deliver it.
Nature has no trouble with the turning. It just, well, turns, quite without the panic we seem to feel as the skirts of summer begin to rustle. No! we cry, Don’t Go Yet……as if summer is our answer to everything. But nothing stays summer, not the season, not a relationship, not even a whole week inside a life because we too are always turning, always changing. We have moods. I recall that being a very bad thing when I was having a lot of them as a girl. A moody girl had something decidedly wrong with her and that wrong needed righting and many heroic attempts were made to accomplish just that. It laughs me now as I reflect upon the methods used to contain me and the bars and chains employed to keep me in. It was a pointless process and proved little beyond the certainty that they were going about this all wrong. If I am a purple flower I will never grow red. If I am a daisy I will never turn into a pine tree. I am who I am, was who I was and no amount of remonstrative logic will make one iota of difference. But who was listening within that culture of spare the rod and spoil the child? I just learned how to keep my colours, my changes, quiet, and that was the best I could do against such a power.
Although I do agree that the balmy days of summer are a salve to any soul, I accept completely that such perfection cannot last. In sending out less buds, each plant or shrub knows this. There would be no point continuing to bud up as the turning sends her message on the back of a changing breeze. They hear it as do we, but they don’t fight it even as they flower on for our delight. The birds have fledged now and grown tails and a heightened awareness. Even the second sitting of hatchlings have learned the ropes. This time is not a time for beginning life, not for them. They must learn about shelter, which berries to pick, how to keep eyes peeled for attack. It is a time for developing strength and an eye for opportunity in preparation for the colder days and nights ahead. The flower stalks will turn slowly brown, drawing themselves back into Mother Earth for a long and well deserved sleep. Some will rise again next spring. Some are just for one season only.
And we can follow their example. Not only can we accept that the turning is moving closer but we can take pleasure in it. Instead of looking backwards we can prepare for forwards, as nature does. Although I am guilty at times of a wistful staring at what was, I know that a joyful letting go means freedom. Nothing can bloom for ever. It would be exhausting for starters. Letting go is a dying in a sense. Practising CPR on a fading flower is quite pointless when I could be making soup or walking among the grasses, whitened into a froth of beauty just because their stems are dry. That fading flower can represent anything in my life like something I wish would live on to beautify my life once more, something that turned when I wanted it to live for ever.
In the turning of Nature, I turn. In the changes, I change. And there is music and colour in such a harmonic dance.