One of the biggest changes to my life since COVID is I can’t remember what day it is. I mean if I try hard I can work it out. Bins go out on Wednesday night, write my column on a Friday but to be honest Sunday through Tuesday, well could be any day really.
In the old ‘pre-Covid’ days I’d be regularly checking my diary to make sure I was ready for meetings or studio sessions. I’d be getting ready to go to football matches on the weekends or mid-week matches. When lockdown came all of these weekly anchor points disappeared overnight.
There have been obvious benefits. Not having to travel to meetings around the country means I’ve saved a fortune on petrol and hours wasted on car journeys. I’ve also saved hours of preening in front of a mirror and wondering what to wear to dress to impress. Everyone on zoom looks casual, especially from the waist down.
The weather hasn’t been much help either. The past few months have been a bit of a blur. Occasionally it’s been too hot, then too wet. Overall, though, since the clocks sprang forward the weather has been fairly uniform.
Last weekend that all changed. After a few days at the end of August which made me think we had moved to a little island somewhere off the Mediterranean suddenly the season changed. Cooler, greyer, darker.
So, whether today is Monday, Wednesday or Friday, one thing I’m absolutely sure about, today is September.
Although the last few days of August were beautiful there were a couple of tell tale signs. The calendar on my watch reminded me that I had to be up early to present a couple of radio programmes over the bank holiday weekend.
Photo by Nic Y-C on Unsplash
Firstly, at 6 am it felt that it wasn’t completely morning time and secondly, by the time I was out in the garden having that cup of coffee that helped kick start my brain in time for the shows, the light over the bay was different. It was misty, it was dreamy…it was nearly September.
Growing up, September was always my favourite month. It was going back to school and seeing all your mates. It was the start of a school football season and the countdown to Christmas.
Photo by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash
September also meant it was time for the harvest. Although my only real connection with a ‘harvest’ was helping my dad collect the beans and tomatoes, and maybe delivering bunches of flowers to some of the older members of our church, school certainly made a big thing of it.
Memories of the sun streaming into the school hall as we sang ‘All is safely gathered in’ are etched in my memory. Sat cross legged, in shorts on the floor admiring the massive ‘wheat sheaf’ shaped loaf of bread provided annually by Michael Edwards’ dad who was a baker!
When I was in primary school September meant the start of ‘Boys Brigade’ on a Monday and ‘Band of Hope’ on a Wednesday. As an older teenager it was the beginning of Youth groups on Sunday and going out for burgers after Youth club on Friday. And as my love for music grew September was the time for the release of lots of new LP’s and new music on the radio.
Photo by Chris Liu-Beers on Unsplash
Nearly 200 years ago, John Keats the poet described September as that…
“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”.
Apparently Keats was also a music lover. He wrote ‘To Autumn’ after walking along the water meadows near his home having left his lodgings to escape the scraping sound of his landlady’s daughter practising the violin.
Just as it was for Keats back then, as we look at the hedgerows we see Blackberries waiting to be baked in pies. We see trees laden with berries being devoured by the birds and if you have anything edible in the garden you know you now have a daily fight on your hands with squirrels.
Whilst I’ve always loved this time of year as I’m getting older I’m starting to wonder if I’m starting to see September for what it really is. Behind all the bountiful harvest September reminds us of our own mortality. We have to gather the harvest safely in because we need to get everything secure ‘err the winter storms begin’.
John Keats was in his early 20’s when he wrote ‘To Autumn’, a young man with his whole life ahead of him… except he had recently lost his mother and brother to tuberculosis and he would soon leave the country he loved so much to live in Rome hoping the drier weather might save his life. Knowing that makes his ‘To Autumn’ even more beautifully melancholic.
Let me say that I’m not trying to compare myself to Keats but my latest record ‘Summer’s Gone’ also carries a similar feeling of loss as we move into autumn. In the song I tell the story of a couple meeting at the start of the summer, somewhat broken. Over the sun filled weeks their love grows only for them to drift apart as the nights draw in and it starts to rain…but it’s more than that.
It’s interesting that when Mike Kennedy of Welsh Connections reviewed the record he saw through it straight away.
Summer’s Gone is 4 mins of pure pop bliss delivered, as always, with a great set of lyrics telling the story of a lost love – but keep listening and it’s not just a song about a holiday romance, it’s a song about looking back on your life (Summer is your youth in this case) and those memories that just don’t go away…..ever. Mal has a rare talent of putting those emotions into a song that hit a chord with us all and on Summer’s Gone he has another winner.
I will enjoy September, October and Christmas and try my best to get through January and February. Who knows by next spring, if life returns to normal, I might just have reconnected to the days of the week as well as the seasons?