20 September 2010


Fly agaric
Here in the northern hemisphere we always think that summer ends and autumn begins on September 21st - the time of our autumnal equinox - though in the contrary southern hemisphere, it is of course the moment of their vernal or spring equinox. The word "equinox" comes from the Latin aequus meaning equal and nox meaning night so at the time of the two annual equinoxes, nights will be of equal length. In truth, the day of the equinox can vary and this year it will actually occur on September 23rd, not the 21st.

Nonetheless, which ever way you look at it, autumn is upon us heralding the dark days of winter. I have dug up the last of our potatoes and my four vigorous courgette plants are struggling to provide any more fruit. Apples are falling and there are no more than half a dozen plums left on the little tree we planted a year ago. I know I need to dig over the vegetable patch and kill off any endemic weeds ahead of early frosts or heavy periods of rain. That way the soil will be better prepared for next year's duties.

Autumn feels like my season. In my birth family, I was the only one to have a birthday then. The football season got properly underway and just ahead there was Bonfire Night, with biscuit tins of fireworks, buttery jacket potatoes and fresh toffee apples. A time for climbing trees for the most promising conkers and just a little further ahead sparkled our pagan midwinter festival which was renamed "Christmas" - really quite recently in the great span of time.

Forgive me this indulgence, but a poem for the coming season...


Fungi stirs in bejewelled turf
The fly agaric wraps its whiskery roots
Subterraneanly round hidden arms and fingers
Anchoring our defiant trees to this Earth.
Bonfires burn in gardens -
Loppings and prunings -
Summer's debris crackling
Like jetsam piled on suburban shores.
The rising smoke smells bitter-sweet
Curling and billowing greyly,
Unsure of its direction.
I see a single sycamore leaf
Suspended by a cobweb
And observe its veins -
Its delightful variegation
In amber, ochre and dappled green.
Like a piece of Mediterranean Art
Hanging in September sun
Quite lovely yet unseen.


  1. I just brought out our wooden fly agaric mushrooms for the nature table. It's funny how they show up in pictures and playthings for children when they're a wee bit poisonous.

    I enjoyed your poem, whiskery roots and all.

    The Michaelmas festival is coming up in two weeks. The children are pretending to fight dragons. I've volunteered to make soup.

    I will miss the school autumn festival when the girl is grown, but hope that we can continue to incorporate some form of it into our lives. Some year, we'll roast a goose!

    Happy Equinox.

  2. Your poem described exactly what I saw these last couple of days. Except for the September sun. Hopefully the Mediterranean Art can be seen today ;-)

  3. Delightful poem, with a just a faint smoky tang of regret. Happy Birthday YP, for when it is/ was!
    This time next year, you and Shirley will be thinking about sunny shores and a warm summer down here. If you organise it right, you'll have three summers in a row.

  4. You have pre-empted my semi-annual ravings about the equinox by publishing yours two days early.

    Pistols at dawn.

  5. SAINT FARIDA All children grow up till they are not children any more. Try your best to imprint memories of Lucia at this age in your mind for ever more. They will become as precious as rare gemstones.
    CAROLINA Thanks for dropping by this blog again and greetings to one of my favourite "foreign" countries - The Netherlands.
    KATHERINE I'm already feeling nervous about meeting you. And yes there was a deliberate tang of regretin that poem. Pleased you sensed it.
    RHYMES Pistols at dawn sir. Of course the only reason for this post was to irritate you!

  6. Nervous? Good gracious, why?

  7. KATHERINE You're so clever.

  8. Nah. I just use wiki.

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