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Featured Poem: October’s Bright Blue Weather by Helen Hunt Jackson

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 11th October 2010

2010 sure is passing at the speed of light. The arrival of another month has given us an apparently incredibly important day – 10/10/10. I have to say, I struggle to see the significance, apart from it making a rather nice pattern and perhaps being a rather convenient day for births and marriages (there’s no excuse for not remembering one number repeated). Aside from all the frenzy over one date in the calendar, October has also ushered in a new season. By now, we have well and truly waved goodbye to Summer and welcomed Autumn with its falling leaves and temperatures.

While some may mourn the loss of summer days, I’m quite happy. I’d much rather have the ‘in-between’ seasons – maybe because they don’t seem to last quite so long as a sticky (or otherwise slushy) summer or weary winter, and so there’s something slightly elusive and special about them. You have to really savour them, before they disappear – and with the way this year is going it seems all the more important to embrace the autumn before the winter winds blow in from the Arctic and thus blow away not only the leaves, but also a great deal of vitality and vibrancy; not to sound completely depressing about the oncoming winter, but grey days don’t always make for the most inspiring of times compared with the dazzling technicolour of autumn. There’s nothing that makes me feel quite as good as crunching through the park and gazing at trees that seem to have been set aflame, seeing squirrels scurrying about amongst the foliage on a crisp but intensely sunny autumnal day.

Still, seeing as we’re not prone to having the best of the weather in this country, even in the height of the summer, such days can prove to be few and far between. I’m sure if you ask most people to describe the typical climate of October, not many would offer the words ‘bright’ and ‘blue’. However it seems that lately we’re in luck, as there’s been quite a few days that can be legitimately described using said adjectives. As I speak – or rather, type – the sunshine is streaming in through my window. Not bad going for early October in the UK. So in recognition, and in hope of a bit more bright blue weather to really enjoy autumn, here’s a poem from Helen Hunt Jackson – who, being an American citizen was probably more used to the tenth month being bright and indeed, blue.

October’s Bright Blue Weather

O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather.

When loud the humblebee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When Gentians roll their fringes tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By two and two together,
And count like misers , hour by hour,
October’s bright blue weather.

O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

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