Rector’s Letter for October
October, like its sister March, is a month of changes. It may begin in warmth and light and end in cold and dark as the year rolls towards the solstice. It may even be illuminated by a passage of high pressure in its middle which gives rise to a brief return to warmth, which used to be called ‘Luke’s little summer’ after St Luke’s Day, which falls on the 17th. The same, rarer, phenomenon in November is known as ‘St Martin’s little summer.’
This central month of autumn causes dissension in the Benefice’s Rectory… there are members of the family who mourn the passing of summer which it brings. For my own part I love it. The colours of fall – the name that Shakespeare and the Americans use for the season clothe the landscape in great beauty, especially in an area like ours which is so rich in broad-leafed woodland. The crunch and bite of the first frosts add an exciting bite to the early mornings. And yet somehow a sense of harvest still lingers over the countryside, John Keats had it right with his ‘season of mist and mellow fruitfulness.’
Somebody said to me ‘I hate it, it feels as though everything is dying.’ But that’s not what is happening in October; rather there is a sense of nature and the world drawing in on itself. Wild animals prepare for winter, some store food and some change appearance, the birds of summer are flown, but much remains. The poet Dylan Thomas, whose birthday was in October, wrote of, ‘A springful of larks in a rolling cloud, and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling blackbirds and the sun of October summery on the hill’s shoulder, here were fond climates…’ I love the logs burning in the hearth and the cosy darkness of the world outside. Not a death, but a season of repose, and the gift of the promise of resurrection.