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Autumn

Mon 07 Jun 2021

To some people autumn, or as our American friends call it, “fall”, signifies the end of a year of life, as winter with all its deprivations lies waiting around the corner. It is hard to believe that within fifteen minutes of the sun setting on a hot and sweaty day, the ambient temperature drops to single digits in centigrade. Cold mists form in the night, simply to condensate on the leaves of the mopane, shrivelling them to ochre crisps when it freezes in the early mornings.

The grass that was still bright green a month ago is now a soft gold. The syringa trees dropped their leaves in unison after shining like yellow beacons for a week or so, before saying goodbye until early spring. They have gone to rest with the baobabs.

Gone are the noisy frogs and toads. The crickets and katydids have gone quiet. There is nothing to interfere with the sorrowful cries of the nightjars and jackals, when they call out in the freezing night.

When the sun eventually peeks over the horizon in the early mornings, the guineafowl jostle and fight for the best position in the morning rays and linger longer in the open than what they should, soaking up the heat.

It is therefore easy to understand that many people believe that autumn is the end of a year of life, and it is easy to understand the melancholy that accompanies some people during this time.

Yet, this is exactly when the spark of life is shining the brightest.

This is the time that seeds must dry out and wait for the moisture of spring to germinate. When the chrysalises and pupa of beetles, moths and butterflies go through their magical metamorphoses. Impalas and wildebeest rut and create the offspring for the following year. Chicks turns to hens and cocks. The weak die and the strong survive to live and procreate another year, in a sifting process as old as life itself.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost [1874-1963]