It was the time between the lights when colours undergo their intensification and purples and golds burn in window-panes like the beat of an excitable heart; when for some reason the beauty of the world revealed and yet soon to perish […], the beauty of the world which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
The girls and I had an hysterically good weekend up at Stempster, while Euan was away representing the family at a wedding in Dumfries and Galloway. At one point I was actually crying with laughter during an afternoon of games, which included the world’s most hilarious game of Cluedo (there’s a reason that it’s not recommended for three-year olds). Auri, meanwhile, also had an amazing time making crafts, riding on a train, and generally running rings round everyone; while Scapa thoroughly enjoyed exploring some new (to her) aspects of the Stempster vicinity. All in all, the perfect way to see in the new season.
Breaking camp in this way always comes with a hop, skip and a jump! All of a sudden everything is different, and if you’re going to move on you’re careful to make use of every single minute, you pull up your tent pegs and douse the fire quickly before anyone can stop you or start asking questions, you start running, pulling on your rucksack as you go, and finally you’re on your way and suddenly quite calm, like a solitary tree with every single leaf completely still. Your camping-site is an empty rectangle of bleached grass. Late in the morning your friends wake and say: he’s gone away, autumn’s coming.Moominvalley in November by Tove Jansson
It is the first day of September, and there was a slight chill in the air this morning before six, despite it still being dry outside. The seasons are starting to shift.
Until more recent years, I spent more or less my entire life living by the academic calendar, whether as a pupil, a student, working in universities, or as a mixture of these. It’s no surprise, then, that at this time of year I have always felt a frisson of excitement linked to new beginnings and possibilities.
The traditional Japanese calendar identifies 72 separate microseasons through the year. Around this time of year, September, “heat starts to die down”, “rice ripens”, “dew glistens white on grass”, “wagtails sing” and “swallows leave”. Towards the end of the month, after the autumnal equinox, “thunder ceases” and “insects hole up underground”.
I have kept returning to these seasons throughout the year, enjoying their poetry and their reminder that we are all linked to the seasons and the natural world. I will look forward to when “crickets chirp around the door” in mid-autumn, and when “mists start to linger” in February.
I have also fallen rather in love with the idea of my own – perhaps our own – list of personal seasons. There would be less than 72, and not all would be as focussed on the calendar of the natural world; but they would capture those moments throughout the year where a certain thrill of anticipation rises again, as it did the year before and the year before that, at some feeling that you can’t quite capture in words but which you recognise instantly nonetheless. So far, the only season I am certain of starts at the beginning of September. I have yet to decide on a name, but it should feel like the promise of potential and the delight of new stationery. A hint of “bouquets of newly sharpened pencils”, perhaps. The freshest of fresh starts as the year begins to turn, the heat dies down, and everywhere there is opportunity and possibilities.