I had a thought today after a long weekend of celebrations that Easter is like four days of Christmas!! Except perhaps without the big build up in the form of visits to Santa, the tree, the decorating. Though in my house I do like to create an ‘Easter Tree’ which looks decidedly ‘Spring’ like despite the fact the here in the Southern Hemisphere we are well into Autumn! It should really be pumpkins and candle light, but that is all too confusing and would surely usher in a whole other conversation about significant festivals relating to seasons and times of the year!
But I do love this time of year..Autumn: the golden season, the russet season, the apple, pear and quince season. Its that time of year when, for myself in particular, things really start to slow down. It’s a few months into the year now and a good time to take stock. Where are we heading? What’s happened so far? How are the kids traveling with school? Any highs or lows? How can we move forward into the year and come out the other end happier, more content, healthier, maybe wealthier or more successful if these factors are indeed important to you? Perhaps if you are in business these types of questions may be pertinent.
Some say that Summer is the season to slow down: lazy days in the hammock with a good book (I’d be lucky to make it past the Prologue! Not for the lack of desire though..what I wouldn’t give to escape into some juicy mysterious novel!) Or how about all-day beach marathons? Booking that little cottage by the seaside? It just never seems to happen for me, yet I do reassure myself that I too will be swanning the main street of down-town Robe in my favourite Camilla kaftan, grande-skinny-soy-latte in hand one-day!! I even make mental notes whilst perusing the latest lifestyle magazines (at least I can manage the ‘quick-flick’ type of magazine read these days) of ‘what to pack when going away’ or ‘beach holiday essentials’. Then moving on to the ‘which swimwear for your body type’ section with the latest designer swimwear releases, quickly scanning the ‘hour glass’, ‘large thighs’, ‘large bust’ and ’round tummy’ suggestions..yes girlfriends..I got it all! But hey, this means options right?!
Moving on from my body type and my mental notes of what to pack when I make it to the beach for longer than half an hour, Summer for me is busy, busy, busy. Between the ensuing lists and tasks that make up the last term of school (from school photos to school concerts and related rehearsals, Christmas craft mornings, possibly a camp, aquatics day and a few more excursions thrown in because its almost the end of the year and the weather is nice!) you’ve got Christmas thrown in! I do love Christmas but my goodness, does it have to be so epic! My idea of Christmas and my actual Christmas are very different. In my mind, the heat of Summer hasn’t quite kicked in and there’s a little chill in the air so that my husband and I can wear matching red and white Nordic style snowflake jumpers. Does this happen? No. Will it ever happen? I’d like to think so, I’m an optimist after all. In MY holly-jolly Christmas mind I’m baking spiced biscuits with my golden, ever appreciative children using an age old family recipe, passed down from mother to daughter over the generations, because that is what they used to do together. Does this happen? Well I do set aside time to bake and cook special things at this time of year, and occasionally the younger of my two daughters will help because she still likes me and is still ‘interested’ in things that don’t require scrolling through a screen! Then you have that weird week between Christmas and the new year that’s a bit like a vortex. Everyone is just mooching around in a daze not really knowing what they’re doing or what day it is. No one really has anything to ‘do’ because all the frantic ‘do-ing’ of the season has come to a holt! Even all the boxes, shopping bags and wrapping paper that is the Christmas ‘fallout’ just sits in the corner of the lounge room saying ‘I just know someone will take me to the bins soon..I just know it’. Weird.
And then there’s Easter. Sometimes it comes around quick, like this year. Other times it’s further into Autumn. Either way, it’s a time of year I have grown to enjoy. Sure, it can be intense with its to-ing and fro-ing, food shopping and the old family chestnut ‘Well we hosted Easter lunch last year so auntie Joyrene should technically host this year, its only fair..wouldn’t you agree Barrimond?’ But somewhere in those four days, somewhere amongst the chocolate, the fruitless hot-cross buns, the fluffy bunnies, the trails of pink foil egg wrappers, surely can be found peace, solitude, time for reflection, gratitude, time with family, time with friends who at times feel like family, a long quiet drive – the type where the children fall asleep in the back because the sun is in there eyes making them drowsy. And it’s just you, the countryside, maybe a book, a magazine, your thoughts, adult conversation with your other half. I love these drives. So much can be gained from them: getting out of the not-quite-cleaned-up-and-put-back-together-after-Easter house for one thing! Being alone in ones thoughts often brings new ideas too and time for reflection on the year so far. Driving through beautiful scenery and connecting with nature, perhaps stopping off for a nature walk is great for the soul and clears the head. Stopping off for a picnic in an area you’ve never been to before and making new discoveries is wonderful, inspiring and relaxing. Or my favourite, discovering a new little eatery for a wholesome lunch or a winery/cellar door with exquisite wines, choosing one to take home and enjoy that very afternoon.
But my very favourite, my absolute best about this time of year, celebrations aside, is the ‘Golden Light’ and the turning of nature. The show that is put on, it’s romantic, it’s inspiring, it’s heavenly. The golden light I refer to is the strength of the sun being a little bit gentler than the end of Summer sun. It’s as though the sun is at a different angle (and technically, it probably is) and hangs heavier in the sky. And the light! So golden! The way it washes over a field of wild grass making everything look even more golden than it already is. It’s like a big Autumn pear in the sky getting heavier with ripe juice as the weeks go by till its about to go off, its skin deepening in colour as it goes. It’s breath-taking and makes you stop and look. It beckons you to take that walk which is so much more enjoyable and easier because it’s not stifling hot. There’s a little chill in the air, everything is easier, more pleasant, there are new conversations, new possibilities, new ventures and adventures, positive ions in the air, change, growth, deepening, shedding of old, ripening, harvesting, slowing down. Roses turn to sunset orange rose hips, leaves turn spectacular colours and appear like little stained glass window panes as the sun shines warmly behind them, then they fall from their branches in sun shower-like displays right before you drive through them, making you sigh and think ‘wow..so pretty this time off year’.
Yes, ‘life is good this time of year’ one says to one’s self. Family is going well, everyone seems settled in, a few runny noses typical of a seasonal change, but all is good. Candles are being lit at dinner time, the cast irons pots come out and the slow cooker too. Even the food slows down! It’s a time to bring out cook books and discover new (or old) recipes. Fruits are stewed in favour of eaten raw off the tree. Spices are added, maybe a little muscat. Pots of tea, scones, casseroles, fresh baked bread to satisfy hungry tummies. Things to warm and comfort the soul. Things that take time to cook and eat. It’s a winding down to all that is yet to come, when the fading golden light has shone its last mesmerising rays, when the odd cool misty day here and there becomes the every day, when the last leaf dances its last special dance to the ground, when the rose hips are pruned off in readiness for next years first flush of flowers. It’s the coming of the time to hibernate..Winter!