The Plastic Hippo

September 22, 2010

Mists and mellow fruitfulness

Filed under: Environment,Literature,Politics — theplastichippo @ 11:31 pm

Autumn Landscape at Dusk - Vincent Van Gogh

The Autumnal Equinox in the northern hemisphere takes place at 03-09 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) during the wee, small hours of Thursday 23 September 2010. On this day, along with the Vernal Equinox in March, the sun spends a practically equal period of time above and below the horizon and night and day are balanced.

The Zoroastrian tradition of ancient Persia holds these days as being especially significant. On these days the perpetual conflict between the earth, in the form of a bear, and the sun, in the form of a lion, is for a brief time evenly matched. A little bit like a political coalition where one side has ascendancy for a time only for power and influence to swing the other way as events unfold. But, our ancient ancestors would be truly terrified at the prospect we face today. The bear looks likely to snuff out the lion.

In other traditions, now is the time to celebrate the harvest and give thanks for a summer of plenty, especially with such an auspicious full harvest moon. For others, though, today is the day for bringing the winter duvet down from the top of the wardrobe and less hardy souls, unable to wait until October, will turn their thoughts to firing up the central heating and wondering where they put the de-icer. They might grumble that with only Samhain and Yule to break the monotony of long, dark nights and short, cold days before the sun returns at Beltane, day is unlikely to follow night.

Keats understood autumn and his poem describing the season contains more about growth, maturation and death than any torn up party manifesto. Those of us who have made jam using apples from the garden, blackberries from Merrions Wood and indecent amounts of sugar will enjoy the taste of summer in the bleak mid winter. With apples in the cider press and the elderberries a week or two away from being fermented into wine, this summer will be more than just a memory of political vandalism and the double-talk of those in power.

We may, of course, raise objections and issue fruitless comments that will change nothing. Keats ended his magificent celebration of autumn with these lines:

“Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.”

Let us hope we all make it to Easter.

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