Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Empty Sky.

In the garden this evening I look up at this and I listen to the silence.
All through the summer the swifts and swallows and martins have screamed and scythed their ways through the warm air and I have watched their acrobatics, sometimes so high that they are specks against the clouds, at other times barely skimming over the vine arch.
There has been great and noisy activity in recent days, and then......then they have gone. Off on their vast journeys, following the winds and the stars and who knows what other invisible forces that draw them back to warmth and light.

This is the turning point of the year as we begin the dip into darkness.
Different birds will come, and if you visit places like Slimbridge you will witness the drama of other great migrations as so many birds make a refuelling stop on their vast journeys.
So the skies are not empty, only of the swallows and swifts who, for me, symbolise the changes in the seasons. I am so happy to see the first arrive, and so sad to realise they have left again. I wish them safety on their perilous flight. It just feels empty now, with the sort of feeling that autumn can induce.

I remind myself that I have a splendid crop of beans, and the sweet peas are still blooming busily enough to provide me with a vase full every day. The grapes are changing colour, even though I treat the vine with all the brutal force I can summon, attacking it with shears and loppers.
It thrives on punishment.

I have Russian tomatoes ripening. One of my Russian friends supplied me with tomato seeds as I was leaving Southern Russia in January, and thanks to a kind friend with a greenhouse we raised and distributed a great many plants. Some of the Russian plants are of the beef-steak type and others are plum tomatoes. They are huge and healthy, like Russian shot-putters, but I think they need a few more weeks of Black-Sea type temperatures (40 degrees or so). They, too, migrated by air to their new homes in Middle England, although they may not do so again unless the summers become warmer.

My elder son has migrated back to Central Asia, half a world away.
Even Grand-daughter has had her first flight, enjoying the turbulence of the return trip.
So my heading is wrong.
The skies have actually been very busy indeed.
They just feel empty.


Zhoen said...

A sky lull.

Will try again with peas next year.

Jee said...

Certainly a touch of autumn outside this evening - and a cow right on top the hill bellowing so loudly we can hear it in the house! All the cattle are strung out along the summit of the hill in silhouette at dusk, I wonder if they stay there all night.

Jenny Woolf said...

Yes, having the heating on for an hour or so. I feel the winding down of the year and slight sense of desolation before we get used to the fact that it is winter.

Elephant's Child said...

The skies are rarely empty - and so very often beautiful.
Spring has well and truly sprung here, and early signs threaten a long hot summer.

marigold jam said...

Lovely post evocative of autumn melancholy! I never cease to be amazed at the distances those little birds travel led only by instinct. When we lived in France we were on a migratory flightpath for many birds but the ones we noted most were the cranes so different to the swifts and swallows but following their ancient routes in just the same way and the passing marked the end of summer just as their passing in the opposite direction early in the year meant the end of winter to all of us!

mm said...

Enjoyed the comparison of the Russian tomatoes with shot-putters!

It is a poignant time of year, but undeniably beautiful. But the temperatures suit me better than the extremes of summer. Not complaining about hot weather, mind you, just saying ....

Relatively Retiring said...

Zhoen: sweet peas or edible peas? Both very rewarding.
Jee: I guess the cows stay up there, but it would be good to see them coming down Church Street, bedecked with flowers and bells, in true Alpine tradition.
Jenny; yes, slight melancholy,
slight desolation. All quite enjoyable really!
E.C: we've had some wonderful dawns and sunsets around here recently, thanks to a long spell of high pressure. I hope it doesn't heat up too much for you.
Marigold: I would love to see cranes passing over. How beautiful thay must be.
mm: I agree on the temperature. 18 degrees is just right for me.
I may have to photograph the shot-putters!

Jee said...

Yes,wouldn't an alpine parade be nice - we've got the hills for it. I just wondered if they grazed at night along the ridge or went down onto a more sheltered spot for a snooze. The sound of cow bells might be a mixed blessing considering how the sound travels.

Leslee said...

The bittersweet does make its appearance in fall, in both senses of the word. The building where I work borders on a swamp, beyond which is a local air field. The crickets are deafening these days, nearly drowning out the small jets that occasionally fly in headed for landing. I saw a great blue heron out on the swamp's edge one day, almost larger than the jets by perspective. No, the skies are not empty, but maybe the decreasing intensity of the sun there makes it seem so.

Relatively Retiring said...

Leslee: that sounds a pretty amazing place to be, and I'm so glad the crickets and the blue heron can compete with the jets.