Last night, I glimpsed the harvest moon, red and full. This is the time of the year when the days grow shorter, the wheat and vegetables, apples, and stone fruit are harvested. Soon the nights of pumpkins and souls will be upon us. Autumn also brings the delight of jumping on crinkly fallen leaves, and the comfort of baked and roasted foods which warm the belly and the heart. While chronic illness and fatigue often prevent me from enjoying autumn to the fullest, with its damp and gale-like winds affecting my body and turning it into a rubber band–sometimes stretched too tight, other times, limp and weak– autumn is a beautiful season, full of stark contrasts and the last of colour we may see for months. Thus, autumn gives us the majesty of fall leaves in the northern hemisphere, leaves which crown the fading summer, soon to become memory. Many years ago, English poet Ted Hughes, penned these lines. As we witness the climate crisis that characterizes our times, celebrating the harvest becomes not only essential, but poignant.
The Harvest Moon, Ted Hughes
The flame-red moon, the harvest moon,
Rolls along the hills, gently bouncing,
A vast balloon,
Till it takes off, and sinks upward
To lie on the bottom of the sky, like a gold doubloon.
The harvest moon has come,
Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum.
So people can’t sleep,
So they go out where elms and oak trees keep
A kneeling vigil, in a religious hush.
The harvest moon has come!
And all the moonlit cows and all the sheep
Stare up at her petrified, while she swells
Filling heaven, as if red hot, and sailing
Closer and closer like the end of the world.
Till the gold fields of stiff wheat
Cry `We are ripe, reap us!’ and the rivers
Sweat from the melting hills.