Seventy at Seventy

Life Begins at 70

[25] Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

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Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness – A Blog about the Season of Autumn

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Because it’s my blog I will define all my topics as I want. But what exactly is the season of autumn?

There are no formal definitions of the seasons or of the dates that define them and there are good reasons for this. There are annual changes in climate but random changes in weather are more unpredictable from year to year. The timing of any marked changes will depend on latitude, longitude and local geography so the dates of seasons are variable.

Scientists note the changing length of sunlight through the year with equinoxes and solstices. If you look up Equinox or Solstice on Wikipedia you can find a lot about their dates and their connections to the seasons. Note that because the motions of Earth are not regular the dates vary. For this year we have the Autumn Equinox on 22 September 2016 and the Winter Solstice on 21 December 2016. [Wikipedia tries to be unambiguous by calling them the September Equinox and December Solstice because the seasons are different in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.]

To add to the confusion the Winter Solstice may be called Midwinter although it is nearer to the beginning of winter than its middle – but there is no day called mid-autumn!

One possible definition takes autumn from equinox to solstice, from 22 September to 21 December. For its seasonal records the UK Meteorological Office defines autumn from the beginning of September to the end of November.

Apart from the weather, there are changes in both flora and fauna caused by the weather changes. These are perhaps even more difficult to tie down to a particular date.

To me autumn is marked by some or all of the following:

  • Daylight hours get noticeably shorter.
  • The bright hot blue-sky days of summer come to an end – if we ever had any.
  • Temperatures get lower. The central heating starts to operate.
  • Schools and universities start the new academic year.
  • Summer visiting birds disappear and winter ones start to arrive. (I tend to just have two seasons for birdwatching – summer and winter.)
  • Insects in the garden and outside disappear – butterflies, dragonflies, bumble bees and even hoverflies.
  • We have Hallowe’en, Fireworks Day and my birthday.
  • Shops start to look Christmassy.
  • The leave on the trees turn to brown, yellow or red and eventually they fall off.

Of course it’s the last one that matters and this is what I will concentrate on here. It’s a slow process but the leaves are at their best around the beginning of November, which just happens to be my start date.

So I will leave out September and October and start on 1 November. [I may change my mind later.]

 

On the first of November I found some autumnal trees in a walk round Pittville Park.

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But already lots of leaves had fallen.

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There were fallen leaves on the lake behind the island.

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I made my way home, still looking out for trees and was impressed with the acers in the car park at my local Waitrose.

 

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Batsford Arboretum

That was a good start but the place to go for trees is an arboretum. So the next day we headed for Batsford Arboretum near Moreton-in-Marsh. (Whatever you do, don’t call it ‘in the Marsh.’)

We were so lucky with our timing. We arrived around ten o’clock, parked easily, had a leisurely coffee and cake and went straight in. We almost had it to ourselves as we went all the way round.

When we came out, around three hours later, we noted queues of several hundred for both café and arboretum and packed car parks and overflow car parks. It must have been one of their busiest days of the year.

 

It was an excellent place to visit and I took lots of pictures – not all of them autumn trees. There were some statues and buildings that may turn up in other blogs but here are the trees.

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We tend to think of trees as deciduous or coniferous but not all conifers are evergreen. Various species of Larch are coniferous but have needles that turn brown and fall off in the autumn. The next few shots show the Japanese Weeping Larch, Larix kaempferi pendula.

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I won’t include a lot of poetry on these blogs but having started with the familiar ‘Season of Mists …’ quotation from John Keats, here is the poem in full. It’s called “To Autumn,” and was written in September 1819.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

 

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,

Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

Steady thy laden head across a brook;

Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,

Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

 

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Of course if you are interested in mists you will be looking at Blog [67] or perhaps [68] and for mellow fruitfulness try [07].

 

Author: Alan

Retired, currently living in Cheltenham.

One thought on “[25] Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

  1. Pingback: [20] Threescore Years and Ten | Seventy at Seventy

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