Summer is slipping away,
into the fading green that is softening towards sepia toned senescence,
the vigor and vim and zest that sang off the trees since May now toned down, flagging,
like a bedraggled party that went on a day or two too long.
Outside my window the autumn mists roll over the hill, over our rooftops, down into the town and out to sea.
and the gardens around town have lost the puff of voluptuousness that makes them so alluring all summer; among them the air is one of satiated contentment as they wither slowly,
decaying happily towards winter.
All hurrying towards some Otherness we cannot know.
Our summer was a mixed one.
July busy, bright, beach days galore, while August sneaked by,
suspended in a waiting game for the sun to return, things to begin, things to finish,
and in the end we woke up and it was suddenly September.
Suddenly there are no more beach days. Not the summer kind.
And even though Autumn is my favourite time of year, I somehow don't feel quite ready this year.
Somewhere in August, in the midst of it all I got lost. Fell into a big lacuna. Looking at the world around me was like lying in a dark sea looking up at impossible stars, being overwhelmed by their presence and extraordinariness, but not knowing whether it was a terrible beauty, or just Terrible. I want to believe the former, but secretly believe it is the latter. Given all that is going on in the world, the craziness, the breaking apart of the way things were, events and people that stop us in our tracks in horror, norms that are now taboo and taboos that are becoming mainstream, this coming apart at the seams, this deconstruction of the old story, some parts of it are exciting but most is very scary, and how exactly is that we are all still standing and functioning and carrying on? Human spirit and all that, right? Is that what it is? Or is that just denial?
I didn't write then. I couldn't. I was too cowardly. And I was in too deep. People don't want their faces pushed into it, I know that, (even though all you really have to do is open your Facebook or Twitter feed to get a whammy of a face full) and in some ways I'm not sure what good it does, writing about it - people come to it when they are ready (or their backs are to the wall). But I can no longer not talk about it - my body is talking about it, singing it, a lament of epic proportions, which is hard to ignore.
However, if you find yourself unwilling to engage with this, that's okay, I understand, but some days we just want to know we are not the only one who sees the world the way it really is, as I said before the one that is beneath the market driven consumer enchantment.
But thankfully there is human spirit, or whatever you want to call it. And we all find our causes and our means to continue, because it's what we do. But I truly would love a conversation about this. A healthy, honest, and balanced conversation. I balk at the notion of becoming a catastrophist, really and truly, but talking about this stuff to people who do not want to talk about it can be isolating, and if left to ones own thoughts I can see how it might be a slippery slope.
So we carry on, and some days feel too full of daunting change, others just the right level of excitement overriding that, but in the midst of it all, stuff is getting done. Exciting stuff that makes me feel like we are powerful after all, and we can make a difference.
Yesterday the school we made opened it's new doors to sixteen students, and being there at Wicklow Sudbury School with all those eager, happy students (seriously - kids and teenagers happy to be going back to school?) and parents was a truly exciting thing to be part of, and with a growing waiting list, hope is in the mix there too.
Our active, vibrant community Common Ground is gearing up for a busy autumn, with a lot of truly great stuff happening, for example we have The Dargle Exchange, which is a 'skills, services and goods trading scheme' which includes our own currency, Cogs. We also have a food savers scheme which is redistributing food which would otherwise be dumped. And these among the many classes and workshops and groups that happen on an ongoing basis.
And we are also busy beavering away trying to get a housing co-operative off the ground, and my, what a brilliant bunch of people we have landed ourselves - after nearly three years fumbling around in the dark we now have folk who can drive the way we drove our school project, and it no longer feels exhausting and overwhelming but exciting and hopeful (those words again!).
So summer slips away from me and much as I love the huddle and nesting of winter, I am loathe to take shelter indoors just yet, my sea fever not yet content, the wild ways of the woodland still with stories to tell before I retreat in to the fireside to distill and extract the fragrant essence of Summer, of whatever our bones and skin and minds have absorbed these last few resting months. I will delve, winnow, and weigh, ponder all of this as I gaze into winter's fire, and somewhere in there will be the nugget, the means for what is next, and my words will find their conduits, and break out into the world, for I've been writing like a mad woman, and I've a great big story to tell.
I am swimming in the deep, still, treading water. But alongside an intrepid ship that I am hitched to, come rain or shine, and there is something about having a ship that is skippered by many.
The Return by Geneen Marie Haugen
"Some day, if you are lucky,
you’ll return from a thunderous journey
trailing snake scales, wing fragments
and the musk of Earth and moon.
Eyes will examine you for signs
of damage, or change
and you, too, will wonder
if your skin shows traces
of fur, or leaves,
if thrushes have built a nest
of your hair, if Andromeda
burns from your eyes.
Do not be surprised by prickly questions
from those who barely inhabit
their own fleeting lives, who barely taste
their own possibility, who barely dream.
If your hands are empty, treasureless,
if your toes have not grown claws,
if your obedient voice has not
become a wild cry, a howl,
you will reassure them. We warned you,
they might declare, there is nothing else,
no point, no meaning, no mystery at all,
just this frantic waiting to die.
And yet, they tremble, mute,
afraid you’ve returned without sweet
elixir for unspeakable thirst, without
a fluent dance or holy language
to teach them, without a compass
bearing to a forgotten border where
no one crosses without weeping
for the terrible beauty of galaxies
and granite and bone. They tremble,
hoping your lips hold a secret,
that the song your body now sings
will redeem them, yet they fear
your secret is dangerous, shattering,
and once it flies from your astonished
mouth, they–like you–must disintegrate
before unfolding tremulous wings."