A tortoiseshell butterfly beats her wings against the windowpane as the light brightens the land outside. She wakes me. I get up, catch her in a glass and give her back to the outside where she wants to be.

Dampness … and that scent of spiders and wood-smoke that heralds autumn as I open the window wide, first thing this morning. It happens every year, the premonition, then the scent of the changing season.

I am like a cat, wanting everything to be the same every day, all my life, and yet one of the things I love most deeply about this beautiful land is the ever-changing seasons. When the changes come I feel a sadness, say goodbye, knowing that I will never see another time just like that. Ursula LeGuin’s wonderful phrase …

“You can go home again, the Temporal Theory asserts, so long as you understand that home is place where you have never been.”

When I first read that, back in 1975, it stopped me in my tracks, one of the most profound statements I ever heard or read. I still say it over to myself most days, it’s a good mantram, this morning is one of those.

To stand on the brink of a new season, smelling its coming on the breath of the wind that steals over the hedge, into the garden and caresses my nose, is a misty, dark, scary, tremulous, exciting moment. It seems to me that we are afraid to do this now. In most places, if I said those words, the folk around would try to comfort me, to take the feelings away, make everything come back to normal. I see mothers do it to their children. Only very rarely do I see a mother encourage her baby, child, to really feel into that scariness, that excitement, the tremulous feeling of one’s insides turning over. When I do, I jump for joy – inside at least – for here will be a child who is excited by life, not afraid to be scared, not expecting everything to be the same all the time but enjoying every changing moment. A child who will grow up unafraid of Nature, unafraid of Life, willing and able to take risks, to change.

Goddess bless the ever-changing universe and the tiny part my life plays in that.

Elen Sentier
… behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …
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