I stood with the morning sun at my back and gazed at the leaves of the vine which covers the high wall at the edge of my garden here in the Charente.
This is my third autumn living in France and from the Autumn Equinox I’ve been anticipating the glorious sight of these leaves. I can’t look at it too much. It captures my attention and utterly delights me.
This third time round strengthens my awareness of the cyclical nature of the seasons. Time no longer feels linear to me. It’s beginning to feel more like a spiral.
As I prepared to take this photo I noticed my shadow and instead of changing the direction of the shot, I consciously decided to include the shadow. Shadows pass much more quickly than seasons do but laying the one transience over another multiplied the effect for me.
I’ve written before about transience, and how it is celebrated in the Spring at the time of the cherry blossoms in Japan, and those memories and ideas popped up in my mind as I prepared to take this photo.
As I look at the image again now, I’m drawn more to ponder how my experience of time has changed in these last two years. The Charente in France has a snail as its logo to represent the “slow life” which is characteristic of this region. That’s one of the reasons I moved here. Slowness, in this way of thinking about it, increases awareness. A “slow life” involves taking the time to savour, to relish, to delight in the everyday – the air, the colours of Nature, the birdsongs, the flavour of vegetables grown in your own garden – you get the idea.
But I realise now that time has changed for me in other ways too. It’s not just that it passes more slowly. I’m more aware of the seasons now than I have been at any other time in my life. We had quite a cool and wet Spring, but from the Summer Solstice, the temperatures shot up and stayed in the high 20s, low 30s (centigrade, my American friends!) pretty much every day up to the Autumn Equinox which came with mists and cooler morning air. When autumn comes the vineyards which stretch in every direction from my garden turn golden, yellow, brown and red. It feels like living in a work of Art.
There are two more rhythms I’m aware of. My every day begins with my opening the blue wooden shutters which cover every window of the house, and ends with my closing them again. The shutters need to be opened and closed from outside, so my day starts with my stepping out into the morning, and ends with my gazing up at the stars. And there’s the final rhythm I’m aware of – the moon. Tonight is a full moon, a “super moon” apparently. I’ll look forward to seeing it.
How do you experience the passing of time? What rhythms are you aware of?