There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Autumn's Last Smile & An October in Oxford Photo Album

The Oxford Canal

"It was one of those perfect English autumn days which occur 
more frequently in memory than in life.  The rich colours of 
the grass and earth were intensified by the mellow light 
of the sun almost warm enough for spring."
~PD James

(Apologies-the video is not compatible with iPhones/Tablets.
Please click the link below to view the slideshow on an iOS)

Ship Street and Exeter College Chapel

"Bittersweet October.  The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect
pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter."
~Carol Bishop Hipps, "October", In a Southern Garden


"Autumn, the year's last, 
loveliest smile." 
                           ~ William Cullen Bryant

"Summer's loss seems little, dear,
On days like these."
~E. Dowson

"Autumn is a second spring
When every leaf is a flower."  
~Albert Camus

October in Oxford is much like the month of March, but not because of the weather.  Like March, October can begin like a lion when the city seems to lift a few feet off the ground as the students return for the beginning of Michaelmas Term. The 8,000 or so second and third year students have been gone since June and the first year students descend upon the city during Freshers Week.  We're surrounded by several thousand 18-19 year olds, away from home for the first time.  You can also add to those numbers the 12,000 undergraduates of Oxford Brookes University.  Add it all up and you have around 24,000 exuberant, young adults converging on Oxford all at the same time.

The air is rising and the air is wild with leaves, 
We have had our summer evenings.
Now for October eves!"
~Humbert Wolfe

As October begins, students seem to move together in groups as large as 30 or 40--buzzing like a huge swarm of bees, even at 2AM. Spirits are high, voices are loud, faces are bright, and bicycles fly past our breakfast room window, almost as if they're going to take off and fly with ET in their bike basket.  But as the month progresses and reality set in, the smiles start to fall like the leaves from the trees.

"Life starts all over again
When it gets crisp in the fall."
~F. Scott Fitzgerld

By the end of October, Oxford's "roar of the young lions" as Oscar Wilde called it, has been reduced to the bleat of a lamb--a frightened lamb. Tutorials and their exacting tutors sweep over the students like 'The Pit and the Pendulum', coming ever closer as Michaelmas term wears on. Worried looks on young faces can be seen everywhere, as reading lists, papers, and lab reports loom on the horizon, rising up and blocking the path between themselves and the Christmas break.  It may have started out with the roar of Oscar Wilde's young lions, but October in Oxford ends quiet and subdued.

Christ Church Meadow &
The River Cherwell
"I'm so glad I live in a world where
there are Octobers."
~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

For us mere mortals, with our university days long behind us, the progression of October days gets quieter and lovelier as the bright golds slowly turn tawny.  The afternoon sun fades away with each passing day until by the end of October, the sun sets by four thirty and the long nights settle in to stay awhile

The last of
Merton College roses.

As the short days and long nights approach, Stuart and I make sure we walk in the late afternoon as many days as we can, trying to store enough golden light to last us through the winter.  We catch the last roses blooming along Merton College and Max has his fill of chasing the extremely busy squirrels, that dart everywhere along the path surrounding Christ Church meadow.  As Jane Austin wrote, we take in "the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges."

"Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise of the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn.  That season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness.  That season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.                                                                        ~Jane Austin, Persuasion

"Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."  
~George Eliot

Merton College Tower

"No spring nor summer beauty has such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face."  
~ John Donne

The River Cherwell.

Petunias and geraniums will make way
for these autumn flowers
waiting for their spot out on Holywell Street.

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