Those who live with the experience of mental distress, often find seasonal change affects them, sometimes positively, at other times less so. I am no exception. Fluctuating mood change can be exacerbated by a lack or an excess of light, and warmth. Seasonal change, particularly Autumn to Winter, when British Summer Time ends, and I’ve turned back my clock, is a time of reflection.
This year Autumn was mild in temperature and without strong winds, enabling the ‘last of leaves’¹, in all their multicolored glory, to remain clinging to their branches. Making way for a slide show of every shade and hue.
Evergreens, gold, fuschia, magenta, copper, lime……fruits and berries ripen blood red and burnt orange;
Shiny horse chestnut fruits, rosehips. Natures harvest, a time when the old harvest festival hymns may drift to the surface of my mind. Memories of garnered wheatsheaves inspire to indoor crafts, and remembrance of my earlier years when household grated fires were commonplace…..’all is safely gathered in’².
The Autumn always touches the wistful parts of me, and thus affects my wellbeing, mostly in positive ways. Initially at the change of season I may feel a twinge of mourning for the passing of the lighter and warmer months.Temporarily I go in to hibernation mode, feeling uncontrollably sleepy, pj days become more frequent. After the initial adjustment to the seasons change I enjoy it’s mellowness and ‘faint blue mists’³, which tap in to my ‘foggy ruins of time’.¹ It’s ‘carpet of gold’¹, with fungi and the earthy smells of decaying foliage, evoke feelings that are hard to grasp or write about. I give them freedom to ripple through me. Although every season has it’s charm I think Autumn is my favorite because it keeps me in touch with the transient nature of all things, and my recognition that there is beauty in change. Fallen leaves that have withered and dried or turned soggy, form their own lovely patterns.
Now in the Autumn of my life I find I’ve physically slowed down, (the mind still races!). This together with ‘retirement’ has given me more time in my daily routine to ‘stand and stare’. I frequently dawdle to admire all the fleetingly gorgeous scenes of seasonal change, and talk to any little furry or feathered creature that crosses my path. During the summer I also had some lovely chats with people over their garden fences, and in addition glanced more frequently above street level. One mid-summer evening with the sun sinking fast I paused to watch and photograph. I wasn’t sure the dimming light would allow me to get a good shot of Kirkgate Market’s spectacular Kremlin like rooftop. I was pleased with the result my Bloggie snap camera made of the fading blue and tinged pink sky of sunset. This Lower Eastgate vista will soon disappear permanently as it becomes hidden by Victoria Gate, indeed within a few days of taking the shot, cranes and diggers had moved on site, marring the view. Actually I like cranes and diggers, and often stop and watch them, pondering about the amount of design, planning and sheer slog which goes into any building, and the lives of those who regardless of the season labour outdoors.
The pleasurable warmth and light of this Spring and Summer’s seasonal change and experiences, linger still. As the color show of Autumn fades and the season descends into the stark contrasting shades of Winter, I anticipate with pleasure its glittering hoar frosts, when frozen grass will crunch beneath my feet, and the icy air make steam of each person’s breath. Wellbeing for me involves adjusting gracefully or otherwise to seasonal, physical and emotional change, embracing their darker side.
¹ Bob Dylan ‘Lay down your weary tune’: Mr Tambourine Man’ & ‘When the ship come in’
² Henry Alford ‘Come you thankful people come’
³ Seigfreid Sassoon ‘October’