The spring was a shining season, full of light and vibrance. There is no explaining a northern spring; you have to be there to know it.
The days increased, and the air resonated with birdsong. The sky became a rich, crystalline blue, the kind of colour one might find in tropical waters, but calmer, deeper, clearer.
And I awoke. The change in the light caught me and pulled me from my winter hibernation. The wind warmed, and I lost the layers of graveclothes. Found myself bare-limbed amid the earth’s breath, wandering through grasses. Tilling soil, fighting with too little time as everything came alive and busy in a rush like meltwaters in the creeks. Planting seeds and dreams and hopes.
The stars took up residence in a halfway space where blue ink stole time from midnight’s velvet black. The moon rode adrift on a sky free of cold and grey and cloud. It is an endless entity, this sky.
In the evenings, out behind the barn, it blazes pale gold and shades of rose and coral. There may be a sea somewhere far away with all these colours hidden among its secrets, but this is my ocean. Hills of green grain like great swells, places I’ve always been. Crumbling buildings once lived in by people I knew and who are gone. Someday I will be too.
Rains come. They trample the earth and ride on, and leaves open out. It is the greening. Every day, so much change. The children come running with the latest news of what grows, what blooms, what phases and stages are occurring as the hours pass by. In only a few hours, one day to the next, morning to evening, it happens.
All insanity ceases. Oh, we are still insanely busy, but the north is balanced on its pivot point and stops to take a breath. The days stretch like a cat in the sun, and begin to lazily retract. All growing things seem to pause. They, too, stretch tall. They reach for the roof of the world, and draw in the heated air that rises off the soil.
Lightning flickers. Storm clouds pass over. The inkshades of night return with their silent wealth.
Soon comes the songtime.
The year hangs poised upon the apex of the seasons. Cricket sounds fill the evening air. Earlier, the hint of rose tinted the clouds, though all other roses have gone their way and vanished. Now, darkness begins to creep in and brings with it my Perseids. I was born in this time, the time when my world sings.
There is no explaining the change of time and season, here in my north. So, come with me to see it.
The Perseids fall. They streak through the sky and never quite make it to ground. Thrown stones that cause no wounds and break no glass houses. The moon flies at half-mast, and where the sky was full of all the gentlest hues before, now the dusky silhouettes of clouds lace the horizon, inkblots rimmed in silver.
I am aging wood, less sap and more brittleness each year. I stand inert while time whirls too fast for me to catch hold. A month used to be as a year is now. A week has become a day. I grieve the shortness of life, and I’m not half done it.
From the high summer’s gentle fermata, the slide will begin, an unseen finger running over my heartstrings. In the songtime, fruit ripens, birds sing, winds take on a different nature. All comes to its intended fullness. Yet still things change and move–instead of a rush, a restlessness that is both wandering and settling in.
Silently, my north will put a ballad in my heart. Leaves will turn colour, birds begin to wing away. The wild winds will sweep through, an unrelenting bluster that signals the jet stream’s shift southward.
In that season, I will feel the greatest resonance. I always have. The autumn’s ingress brings me lyrics and tunes, and sets my soul to restiveness along with the wind. I think perhaps I was made for summer’s end.
In the summer’s end, I am a gatherer. I turn soil, pluck fruit, make freezing and canning. My labours return to me, and they are good.
I hope this forebodes the course of my life. I hope not to be fossilized by excessive care and pragmatism by then. How would a stone hear the song of the year? Yet I miss so much that I sometimes wonder if it will slip past before I can truly grab hold, days turned into seconds.
I don’t know. I only know there is no explaining the northern summer’s end; I have to go and see it. You, then, my friend, come with me. Slow my steps. Take me there, where grasses play crescendoes and leaves rattle a percussive ostinato, and all comes to harvest, for good or ill.
I am not old yet, but I am no longer young.
Walk with me into the songtime.