I like to walk, especially in the evening and often wander, aimlessly, in the not particularly special places around my home. In recent days, I have encountered the end of summer or the beginning of autumn.
It feels as if we have not had much of a summer this year, with many cool and cloudy days, so I was sad to see this time already here. As always, it is important to look at the details. What looks like death and decay on the surface, is actually fruitfulness. Almost every plant is in seed or fruit. Birds and animals are eating their fill. The burst of growth which began in the spring is reaching its climax now. The mellow gold and tan of the land are the colours of abundance. This is a time of goodness and giving, not a time of fading and decay. The yellowing and drying of plants is because they are sending all their energy and stores into their fruits and seeds, but the energy is still there. Plants are feeding animals in a bid to disperse their seeds. Other plants are relying on the wind or water to send their seeds out, but have still provided an abundance of energy, won from the sun over the months of summer.
You do not have to go into the fields and byways to see this. In the suburban streets, between the railway station and the shops, a few metres’ of walking will find lots of different berries and fruits. Some of these will last most of the winter, a food store for birds especially. Other plants have been bred to look good, when flowers and foliage are long gone. This is what the summer has been doing: making the world fruitful.
We so often think of summer as a time of laziness and rest, but the opposite is true. Around us, the tiniest plants up to the mightiest trees have been using all the sunlight and warmth they can to grow and to produce seeds and fruit. It is only from now, until winter comes, that there is anything like a time of plenty or a time of rest.
Seeing this, so obvious when you open your eyes, somehow brought me to meet the summer, not simply drift through it. The year is always turning, but each moment in it is important. As summer moves towards its end, it is also a beginning, as autumn and winter prepare for new life and growth in spring. At the same time, it is now: a time in itself. Now is the time of fruitfulness and richness. Perhaps the struggle is a little less. This is a good time.
I am still a little sad to see the leaves begin to fall, and realise that the swifts have already left the skies and are well on their way back to Africa. I like autumn as well as summer, and I am looking froward to what it brings, but I was glad to notice, in my simple, local walks, just how fruitful this time is.