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Autumn Musings

Cool, crisp walks, greening fields, autumn leaves drifting almost lazily against blue skies, skin warmed by an open fire, a good book…I love all the seasons for different reasons but as I get older I think possibly I love Autumn the best…

The Autumn by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them –
The summer flowers depart –
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, –
Their presence may be o’er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh’d our mind,
Shall come — as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind — view not the woods;
Look out o’er vale and hill-
In spring, the sky encircled them –
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn’s scathe — come winter’s cold –
Come change — and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne’er be desolate.

This poem in many ways sums up the mixed feelings I have felt this Autumn; for while my spirits have sometimes soared…they have often drifted back to earth and inwards in sorrow, regret, longing, despair…only to seek those lofty heights of happiness again…to embrace life while I can…

I miss, love and long for my youngest daughter more than ever and love and enjoy my eldest in more ways than I imagined possible. My two daughters still form the axis that my world revolves upon.

Autumn is a time for dreams flying on the back of coloured leaves, a time of reflection on past glory, current beauty and change…a time for honesty, hearty food and shared thoughts in the comfort of the home my family has created together.

I have just finished the book The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I found it to be a powerful book that has made me feel fortunate to be both woman and mother. It has given me the strong need to reach out to my wonderful women family members and friends…to acknowledge their importance in my life and the respect and love I have for them…to remind myself that I have much to be grateful for and that sometimes the things that seem our curse could actually be our savior.

The tent from which the book draws its name is where the women characters gather each new moon and dwell together during their monthly flow.

I’ve noted through experience that when women live together or spend a lot of time together more often than not their menstrual cycles start to synchronize? This phenomenon is explored in the book with all the women who travel and live together also bleeding together; always at the new moon.

The red tent is the place where these women connect, a place where they celebrate their strength, and carry on their traditions. A place where they share stories, pass on knowledge, love and support each other without the distractions of the outside world…three days each month for the women of their group and them alone. It is a secret world, a world where no man may enter.

“The great mother whom we call Innana gave a gift to woman that is not known among men, and this is the secret of blood. The flow at the dark of the moon, the healing blood of the moon’s birth-to men, this is flux and distemper, bother and pain. They imagine we suffer and consider themselves lucky. We do not disabuse them.

In the red tent, the truth is known. In the red tent, where days pass like a gentle stream, as the gift of Innana courses through us, cleansing the body of last month’s death, preparing the body to receive the new month’s life, women give thanks-for repose and restoration, for the knowledge that life comes from between our legs, and that life costs blood.” (Ref. page 158).

The author takes what some women look upon as inconvenience and annoyance and instead gives it power; portraying it as a gift (which it is when thought of in the context of life). Women are not victims of their bodies but the providers of life; able to endure pain so that joy may be created.

It is a book that journeys through life and death, not withholding anything; portraying the links and cycles that entwine death with life… hardship and suffering with joy. I cried, I laughed, I held my breath… I could relate.

This is a book I have meant to read for some time and I thank the friend who kindly donated it to the natural parenting/sustainable living library I am trying to set up…it was the perfect time for me to read it and I have no doubt I will be reading it again in the future…

While the physical tent may no longer exist and no one carry on the tradition, there is still a red tent that exists among women when they choose to look for it and we need only turn to each other for strength, for wisdom and courage. I must remember this and embrace this idea.

The Red Tent is a novel by Anita Diamant, published in 1997 by Wyatt Books for St. Martin’s Press. It is a first-person narrative which tells the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister of Joseph, a talented midwife and proto-feminist. She is a minor character in the Bible, but the author has broadened her story. The book’s title refers to the tent in which women of Jacob’s tribe must, according to the ancient law, take refuge while menstruating or giving birth, and in which they find mutual support and encouragement from their mothers, sisters and aunts. (Ref Wikipedia

Further information can be found about The Red Tent’s author by visiting Anita Diamant’s website


I’d like to finish this post with an autumn sunrise I enjoyed a few days ago…enjoy the remainder of autumn!