To Autumn

The year is slowly turning away from the bright yellow and high green noons of summertime and towards the golden-syruped long afternoons of autumn.    One evening in the Cotswolds last week, we went to dinner at a country pub in the bottom of a valley.  When we got out of the car, the still green trees on the ridgetops were for a moment sun-honeyed and golden from the rays of the setting sun.  Then as dusk fell, summer returned.  Another moment that has stayed with me is time spent in the apple orchard at Lacock Abbey.  The trees were heavy with fruit and a skirt of windfalls lay around each tree.  The perfume of apple cordial permeated the air, heavy and sweet.

windfalls

The autumn equinox is on 22nd September this year.  The autumn equinox is universally observed as a time for celebration and gratitude of both harvests and of the hearth as a symbol of family, friends and the home. The name “equinox” itself is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), therefore the length of night and day, light and dark are equal. On the day of the autumn equinox, the sun enters the sign of Libra: the constellation appropriately represented as scales and balance. It is also associated with apples as potent symbols of death, rebirth and transformation.

For our ancestors this was time to reflect on the past season and celebrate nature’s bounty and accept that summer is now over. The autumn harvest festivals mark a time of rest after hard work, and a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of nature.  This is the time to look back on the past year and what you have achieved and learnt, and to plan for the future.

To celebrate, Steve and I are cooking a feast for six of our friends.  Our first dinner party!  What’s on the menu?

Civet of Rabbit with Pickled Mushrooms and Caper Toasts
Chicken with Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce
Roasted Parsnips
Steamed Chard
Rice Pilaf
Pear and Walnut Tart

We’ll drink a toast to the equinox with Somerset Pomona, a Cider Brandy aged in oak barrels.  Pomona is the goddess of fruit trees, gardens and orchards.

pomona1

I’ll use my laburnum oyster tray I made when I was in furniture school a few years ago.

pomona2

We’ll also light a beautiful candle given to us at our housewarming party from two of our friends.  This will mark the transition to spending warm, cozy candlelit nights inside in the warmth of our home during the autumn and winter months and celebrate sharing our hearth and home with friends.

To Autumn

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not,
but sit
Beneath my shady roof, there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe;
And all the daughters of the year shall dance,
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

– William Blake

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5 thoughts on “To Autumn

  1. A lovely post Melinda. I could almost taste apples! lol. Your dinner party is sure to be a success, especially with that menu. Sounds scrummy. You’ve inspired me to look into doing something for the solstice here.
    I’ve never “gotten into” poetry, but I do like that one. 🙂

  2. Sorry, no idea why I put solstice. Brain freeze perhaps? :))
    Well I figured that we must have something similar down here but in opposition to your Autumn, and not being very knowledgeable in these matters I went a-googling! I found this. Just thought it might be nice to celebrate something for a change! 🙂

    SPRING EQUINOX: The first day of the Season of Spring – and the beginning of a long period of sunlight at the Pole. In the northern hemisphere: MARCH 20 (the Sun crosses the Equator moving northward). In the southern hemisphere: SEPTEMBER 22 (the Sun crosses the Equator moving southward).
    AUTUMN EQUINOX: The first day of the Season of Autumn – and the beginning of a long period of darkness at the Pole. In the northern hemisphere: SEPTEMBER 22 (the Sun crosses the Equator moving southward). In the southern hemisphere: MARCH 20 (the Sun crosses the Equator moving northward).

    Suppose I should get my skates on if I want to prepare something suitable!! lol.

  3. Interesting. Thanks for sharing that. It’s the same only completely opposite! Sounds like you equinox is about planting seeds and making plans. Your celebration can be as simple as lightng a green candle or bringing in some special flowers. Or make it a reason for an all-out feast!

    ps Maybe you’re having brain thaw : )

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