The season of mellow fruitfulness again swings round, the sun grows yellow, and the sky, when blue, is sharp and clear.
The blue haze we see in summer skies has blown away. In deserts, the heat fades out the blue. Blue is the colour of cold, and cold skies are blue skies. I like the sharpness of autumn vistas; I think many people do.
Much depends on location, of course. A winter view in Donegal when the ground is hard and dusted in frost and the trees decked in icicles may be quite different from the outlook on the same day on a West Cork lane with withered leaves hanging like black rags on bushes, and mud underfoot. Things sparkle in frost, and ice twinkles like live stars in winter sunlight. So, give me the hard winter, the hard ground, and a heavy jacket or a feisty walk to combat the cold, and I’m as happy in winter as at any other
season of the year.
On most recent days, the sun shines on and off and when it does the clear, sharp views are lovely. But then the clouds come drifting across the sky and, next thing, we’re sheltering under a bush with a shower battering the leaves above our heads and hopping off the road beyond our toecaps.
Nature draws a dark cape over all, and there’s nothing to do but stare at the gloom, waiting for the ‘Hey presto!’ moment when the cowl is drawn back and the landscape is floodlit before our eyes, beams a hundred acres wide sweeping across the fields, dyeing them green as it travels, and the world is an entirely different place than it was ten minutes before, and the clouds race past the sun.
It’s no wonder our progenitors
believed in the gods. Emerging from under the bush, you’d all but believe in them yourself, despite the scientific explanations. Miracles are manifest in the whole event — a cloud made of water sucked up from the sea was blown by a wind that arose from the spinning of the rock we live on around a big, hot coal suspended in mid sky.
As the cloud moved, it passed before the big, hot coal and shielded our part of the rock from its heat and light but, upon reaching a certain altitude (the cloud highway?), it discharged its water, irrigated the fortunate land beneath and let the light spill across it and the glow heat it, and the skulkers beneath the bush set off once more at full stride across the radiant land.
They are indeed miracles, the
elements first created and then scheduled to be, by turn, benevolent, as in Ireland, or malevolent, as in the unfortunate Caribbean Islands, homes of some of the poorest humans on Earth who, along with the citizens of other ‘no-account’ nations (Sudan, Somalia, Bangladesh, etc, etc) suffer the results of the selfishness and shortsightedness personified by Donald Trump, who believes that withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement to control environmental abuse will make America richer rather than poorer.
He’s got it fatally wrong there, if
the latest procession of hurricanes is anything to go by. Nature has had,
unfortunately, the last, hollow laugh as his country is devastated with storms intensifying in regularity and ferocity year on year.
On aggregate, nature proves more benevolent than malevolent; otherwise, we, who were apes, would not have survived to become the planet’s apex species. Its benevolence was grudging — in the deserts, marginal lands and ice-caps, it still is — but such conditions, notably Ethiopia’s Rift
Valley, bred a species of humanoid
sufficiently hardened, innovative and resourceful to go out and colonise the Earth.
The Aboriginal people of Australia learnt to hear and harvest witchetty grubs three feet beneath the waterless Great Sandy Desert; the pre-Eskimo Dorset People lived in animal-skin tents in darkness and Arctic ice-storms six months a year; Polynesians sailed thousands of miles on rafts, living from the sea, and surviving its shoals and hurricanes.
Humans are, indeed, an extraordinary life-form, but without the benevolence of nature, flathúil or grudging, we could not be here.
Now, on these autumn days, the roadside hedgerows that survive are larders of wild crab apples in their
autumn glory, blackberries, wild plums, sloes and haws, elder berries and rowan berries, rose hips and hazel nuts. Having escaped the reach of those county councils that unmercifully, often unnecessarily — and habitually out of season — massacre the wild trees, they are a perennial bounty which we must either respect and value or slowly but surely destroy for ever.
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