This morning I was sitting inside at the PC, by french windows opening on to our south-facing garden. After thirty minutes I looked down at my left arm to see a distinct patch of sunburn. As far as I can recall I have never been burned by the sun in my dining room before and as it is now very late September the world feels slightly odd. I have always found Emily Dickinson a kindred spirit in confusion, and the first four verses of this poem express perfectly how I feel at present:
Emily Dickinson [1830-1886]
These are the days when birds come back,
A very few, a bird or two,
To take a backward look.
These are the days when skies put on
The old, old sophistries of June, –
A blue and gold mistake.
Oh, fraud that cannot cheat the bee,
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief,
Till ranks of seeds their witness bear,
And softly through the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf!
Oh, sacrament of summer days,
Oh, last communion in the haze,
Permit a child to join,
Thy sacred emblems to partake,
Thy consecrated bread to break,
Taste thine immortal wine!
Irony is not lost on me. Last week I wrote of my love of the cool days of autumn and discovered that many other people feel as I do about the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. I complained that I would love it more should it stop raining and hey presto, it is now 27 degrees celsius in the shade. It is actually too hot to sit out.
It is even more peculiar (here I must stress there is no bitterness in what I write) as I had, when I wrote that piece, just returned from a holiday in the Lake District. I mentioned on Twitter (to @stewyphoto as I recall; a great follow for photographers and lovers of the Lakes and landscape) that I had experienced ‘four seasons in one week’ and for the first couple of days we had indeed battled the tail end of Hurricane Katya. We braved wild winds (rather exhilarating to walk in actually); torrential rain and freezing hail. It felt like November.
None of that ever spoils my enjoyment of the Lakes of course. In what I feel is my spiritual home there is as much beauty for me in a bank of grey cloud high over the fells as there is in a blue sky. It is an environment within which I feel remarkably ‘safe’, despite the fact that I am walking on slippery stone and sliding on wet grass slopes. I don’t exactly take risks: walking round rather than very far up. But even then I feel in a constant state of childlike excitement and want to ‘breathe in’ the landscape around me.The only day that I experienced a lowering of the spirits was when it appeared we would be stuck under the mist as it came down, spending the rest of the holiday in the gloom of a permanent mizzle.
If you want to see some really astonishing photos of the Lakes visit @stewyphoto’s websiteStewart Smith Photography, but if you wouldn’t mind indulging me for a moment here are a few of my own efforts from earlier this month. Having at last had the opportunity to go through my photographs of the week properly, it seems that the weather now is not so extraordinary. I am very amateur so share them only to prove that we did indeed experience something of all four seasons; to highlight how ready we are to assume the worst of British weather and simply as an excuse to gaze at this wonderful landscape again.
As you can see, I love a sky. And I love a sky most when it is a backdrop to the lakes, fells and landscape of Cumbria.