We might be so aware of the earlier nightfall these days that we fail to detect that the rate of change has begun to slow, warning us we have but an approximate half-hour of daylight left to lose before the nadir of this year is at hand.
These are the days Nature has found herself tucking her children into their beds of brown, preparing them for a long, cold winter, not to awaken until their leaves of green are welcomed by a gentler world of blue skies and a kaleidoscope of spring flowers. Our northern lands have been busy getting ready for winter. Fingers of ice are creeping across lake and river. In the high country, blankets of snow have been falling, topping mountain peaks with their annual trimming of white, reminiscent of frosting on a cake. Another 30 minutes are due to fade before the year turns its face toward the southern skies again
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde’s “The Happy Prince and Other Tales,” we ask as the year readies to depart: Swallow, swallow, little swallow, will you not stay with me another day, for winter is too long, cold and lonely without your sweet songs and cheerful company? Just as the flower that fades, the songs that are sung remind us that, no matter our desires, what has gone before cannot return until another year changes its preordained course.
With each passing day, as the noonday sun continues to move closer to the southern horizon, leaves and thermometers continue to fall. Across lawn and field the browning moves on, naked trees shiver and dance to the tune of whistling winds. Man pulls his coat a bit closer and shifts his mode of living to the basic pleasures of a warming hearth fire.