It’s been the most beautiful autumn I can remember.
The stillness of each reluctant dawn.
The drama of the sunrise, turning the world from grey to lemon, gold to rose.
The vast, v-shaped skeins of pink-footed geese heading for the salt marsh, rowdily honking, like teenagers en route to a party.
The rowan trees lining the cul de sac, branches weighed down by luscious clusters of crimson and orange fruit.
And now, sheltered against our back fence, beneath the path of the red squirrel, skittering its way to a peanut feeder meant for the birds, the very last roses of summer.
‘Dusky Maiden’ is boasting two brave blooms. Crimson petals, yellow stamens. Small, delicate, simple. Defying the season.
In a perfect line of sight for me when I lift my eyes from my desktop.
There have been walks. In a nature reserve, cached in a former brickworks. Trees decked out in their finest finery, gaudy cascades of gold and bronze, reflected in ponds swimming with resident waterfowl. People and dogs, birds and insects, fungi and flowers – all manner of life is here.
There have been strolls on the vast sandy stretch of our local beach, tears rolling from my eyes as the cool wind catches the corners.
There was a trek, at dusk, to a special Wildlife reserve. An hour spent waiting and watching, legs chilled, eyes peeled. Then sighing and ahhing as starlings wove their magical murmurations against the backdrop of a dusty twilight sky. (Be patient with the video, watch the horizon, stay to the end)
Yesterday was a tromp in our local nature reserve, pine trees soaring above us, roots of evergreens, birches and beeches ribbing the bare sand beneath our feet. Marram grass holding the dunes together. Stabilising the human world. For now.
And there have been such sunsets. Nature’s been wielding a swashbuckling paintbrush these last few weeks.
But the moon is not to be outdone.
A moonset last night had me gasping with delight. A juicy orange segment slipping down to the smooth curve of the golf course, dipping behind it – and suddenly – expired. Gone. The only clue left, a sliver of amber light, silhouetting the slope of the manicured, marram-grassed sandhills.
Later, we sat out on our little balcony swaddled in wool, begloved and behatted.
We watched the stars turn from vague speckles on a not-quite-dark-yet sky to glittering pinpricks in a cloth of inky indigo.
And amid all this beauty – what?
Bursts of creative passion and words tripping off my fingers and onto the screen?
Once indoors the dimmer switch has been turned. My mind wanting out. But there’s nowhere to go.
It’s proving dispiriting for me, this autumn.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware how lucky I am, to be born in this affluent world, a child of loving parents, educated by good schools and cared for by a free health service. Married to a wonderful man.
I’m aware how well my life has gone so far, how much I have to look back on that’s good and fun and even – some of it – worthy.
The other day someone who knows me well was chatting about some younger folk of our acquaintance. A five year old, I heard, was itching to meet my husband.
A man who knows about dinosaurs and bones and things? I’d be excited too!
But it came at an unfortunate time. A time when I was realising that, not only have I graduated into the ranks of ‘invisible women’ (this is how I wrote it before) as far as strangers are concerned, I’ve also become a nothing as far as, well, non-strangers are concerned.
I murmured something to that effect. And when she said, ‘yes, they just see us as appendages of our husbands,’ I was there before her, in my own head.
She meant no malice. And I didn’t challenge it. She was right. And she’s a kind, loving person.
She’s also a mother and a grandmother. Neither of which I am.
She, I suspect, thinks I have retired from life. Though I’m not of retirement age.
She thinks this, I suspect, because I ‘work’ from home.
I tell her what I’m ‘working’ on, but it feels like an exaggeration. Because my ‘work’ is writing – and I’m not a success. Not by the world’s standards. Not by my standards.
I have no book deal. No agent.
Finished novels languish on my desktop for want of confidence in their saleability. I published one myself – only to discover how bad I am at self-promotion.
Unfinished odds and ends languish in optimistically named folders on data sticks and laptops. Unfinished because I know I have no agent, no deals, no chance – in my own head – of being published.
My last paid freelance work was a drop of rain in a desert. I’m not actively seeking freelance work –but that’s beside the point.
Kind friends resort to saying, ‘but look at what you’ve done.’
Yes. I once was. I once did.
I always feel sorry for folk who say ‘I used to be’ when asked about themselves.
But now, I’m there. An ‘I was’, not an ‘I am’.
Unless I admit to, resort to, being an appendage.
Late middle age is our autumn, isn’t it? And next, of course, comes winter.
I will regroup, don’t worry.
Pull myself together.
Spring, after all, is just a few months away.
And with the spring comes Wendy 😉 or even … well, let’s just wait and see.
Hope, as they say, springs eternal.