I have always loved August, that month where a particular coolness in the morning air on stepping out, a papery rustle tingeing the wind blowing through the trees, intimates that Summer is losing its hold upon the year, that Autumn is ascending…sensing this brings on a very particular mood, a mood dominated by the atmosphere of Neptune, that most poignant, sensitive and poetic of energies.
Step with me for a moment into Neptune’s world…
August is my birth month. There is a poised melancholy about it which fits my temperament well. From a very young age I have been very aware of the transience of Life: for all its challenge, turmoil, joy, grief and seemingly endless possibility, its manifold excitements, loves and pleasures, it is soon gone: a frail leaf drifting down to the river of Time which carries everything mortal to the great Universal Sea.
Whilst in a pleasingly melancholy August mood today, I dipped into a favourite inspirational book and found this gem, which I thought I’d share, from Katherine Mansfield…
“…It is a sensation that can never be forgotten, to sit in solitude, in semi-darkness, and to watch the slow, sweet, shadowful death of a Rose.
Oh, to see the perfection of the perfumed petals being changed ever so slightly, as though a thin flame had kissed each with hot breath, and where the wounds bled the colour is savagely intense . . . I have before me such a Rose, in a thin, clear glass, and behind it a little spray of scarlet leaves. Yesterday it was beautiful with a certain serene, tearful, virginal beauty, it was strong and wholesome, and the scent was fresh and invigorating.
To-day it is heavy and languid . . . So now it dies . . . And I listen . . . for under each petal fold there lies the ghost of a dead melody, as frail and as full a as a ray of light upon a shadowed pool. Oh divine sweet Rose. Oh, exotic and elusive and deliciously vague Death..”.(i)
(i) Katherine Mansfield: The Death of a Rose (from The Virago Book of Spirituality, Edited by Sarah Anderson, published 1996, p276 )
photo: Anne Whitaker
400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page
Well, geography seems to be destiny, or something. I hate and despise August. I hate the interminable heat, and gag at the humidity so thick you begin sweating when you open the door at six in the morning. I’ve grown tired of the love-lorn cicadas that won’t SHUT UP already, and the mosquitos that are multiplying at a rate not be believed. And, to be frank, I’m sick of drinking water.
Worst of all, I despair of knowing that there’s still another month or month-and-a-half to get through without either dying or having to deal with a hurricane.
Other than that, it’s a great month! I’m glad you’re enjoying yours, and enjoyed the rose’s elegy.
Well, your sentiments re August did not miss and hit the wall here, Linda! I’m pretty sure if I lived where you do, I’d feel the same. Still, glad you enjoyed the coolness of Katherine Mansfield…
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Unless someone mentions one of the four seasons, I ‘forget’ about the change of weather/temps and even the daylight hours. Here it’s either the rainy season or the dry season…
Roses do grow well here – in fact Ecuador is one of the major producers of roses, grown and shipped from the high elevations of the Andes. Perhaps these roses would represent the ‘first’ part of that lovely prose about the fading rose….
Sending you a cyber bouquet of roses still in the bud, waiting to open ever-so-slowly in your presence! Congratulations on your latest Trip around the Sun!
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That is so kind and thoughtful of you, Lisa! I love roses…
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Lovely post, Anne. I have been feeling the subtle movement toward Autumn for quite a few days…even in the midst of hot, humid weather. We share a love of roses. What a lovely piece about them. I have often watched them change day by day after bringing them in and placing them in a proper container – whether one or many. Like so many things in nature, they show us so much, if we slow down to watch and listen. Happy Birthday month to you!
Many thanks for your thoughtful reply,Carrie, and I wish you a peaceful descent into autumn….and thanks for the birthday wishes too!
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What a beautiful piece of writing… from both authors 😀
Many thanks, Carole…X
Reblogged this on Lost Dudeist Astrology.
How amazingly synchronistic to have your wonderful article pop up at this time Anne! And yes, your birthday is coming soon. There is nothing quite like that particular strain of melancholy…. I had the oddest experience that I just explained to my friend as a Neptunian-type – and your Katherine Mansfield “Death of a Rose” framed it in words. Almost 2 years ago a woman came into my facebook world – full of words. Her expressiveness took some getting used to. She continued and I continued to read her words and a funny thing happened – it felt like a connection. I began to enjoy her – outspoken, sassy and full life. Then she met (at 62 or so years old) – a man who swept her off her feet and onto his motorcycle – then into his motor home. And for the next several months I found myself cheering them on via facebook -glorying in their happiness and travels. A little over 2 weeks ago they had an accident on the motorcycle and she passed away. There are no words to express how this person known only via fb had such a hold of my heart – and the hugeness of the feeling that her death caused. Keep on telling myself she went at her perfect time – at the peak of that beauty. When the aching gets too much (because it seems Neptune-melancholy must have its time too), I hit the gym and let the sweat stream like tears until I’m clean and know all is truly well – and that Catherine will live on in my heart!
Many thanks for this poignant autumnal tale, Rena! And for the birthday wishes. Much appreciated.
Thank you, Anne, for sharing a more unique perspective on the month of August. I’d not have associated the Neptunian diffusiveness and oceanic rhythms with August, though I can see and sense that after reading your musing. Happy Birth Month / Solar Return Month to you. 🙂
Many thanks for your birthday wishes, Jamie! I’m just back from a birthday trip to the wild North-West of Scotland – renewing contact with my familial roots. You can see some photos on Facebook! Also – glad to have offered a different angle on Neptune…it’s the poignant ephemerality of the beginning of autumn that brings a sense of Neptune for me…