Once the leaves drop off the trees, you can see the fragility of their limbs, shivering in the November sleet. That full, green flush of spring feels long ago; we have harvested the goodness of that time, and once again the world is on the brink of all that winter inflicts.
After the war, we thought that there could never be another time like it. That the men in high office had learned their lesson, that the people wanted only to be able to walk down a lamp lit street to a house where the yellow light shone out of gaily curtained windows.
Now, it seems, there are new men in high office. In the chilled winds, people forget quite how blessed they might be. They compare themselves to those who have more than them, forgetting those who have less. The same old angrily trodden paths are marched down once again, and once again the grass is worn away. Forgotten and despised, the excesses of our long summer lie, brown and rotting, in the gutters.
But I know where the bulbs lie, still and quiet in the earth. Deep in their veins, those selfsame trees hold the blood of life. In drawers, all over the world, packets of seed lie dormant, just waiting to be planted. And quietly, while the mob is shouting, the rest of us carry quietly on putting meals on family tables, and teaching children to think for themselves. Driving lorries of clothes to the cold and dispossessed. Smiling at strangers in the street.
If you listen carefully, you can hear the rattle of the tines as those blackened leaves are raked up for the compost, ready to grow next summer’s fruit. You can hear the scratching of thousands of pens as people write in diaries and newspapers of their care and optimism. You can hear the rattle of the collecting tin as volunteers stand for hours in the cold to help someone other than themselves.
In November, the bleak midwinter lies yet before us. But after that comes the spring. Always, and inevitably.