♫You by my side, that's how I see us,
I close my eyes, and I can see us,
And I can hear sweet voices singing, Ave Maria.
Oh my love, my love this can really be
That someday you'll walk down the aisle with me,
Let it be, make it be that I'm the one for you,
I'll be yours, all yours, now and forever.
I see us now, your hand in my hand,
This is the hour, this is the moment,
And I can hear sweet voices singing, Ave Maria.
Ave Maria, Ave Mari-i-a.♫
♫The Wedding by Julie Rogers♫
Britain basked in a glorious heat wave as the predicted Indian summer arrived. An Indian summer was when the weather was warm and dry for a significant period of time after summer had officially ended. Normally, this occurred between mid-September and late October. It was a beautiful sun-kissed Saturday, a perfect day for a wedding as we made our way to Worcester. Babe’s adorable eldest niece, Siobhan was getting hitched to the equally hunky Liam. We arrived early and enjoyed the balmy conditions of around the late 20s.
It was wonderful catching up with the in-laws in a very happy environment. Everyone scrubbed up well and looked extremely wonderful in their finest attire. Families and friends from all over the country were out in force once again to witness the union. We were treated to an emotional and intimate ceremony with lots of songs and laughter as the couple tied the knot. Then everyone headed to into the basement for a slice or two of yummy cakes and coffee. Here, we were introduced to Babe’s younger niece, Ellen’s partner and their 2 adorable sons. The happy couple later joined the celebration and we’d a chat and a hug with the radiant bride and was formally introduced to the besotted groom.
After the meet and greet, we chatted with the rest of the tribe. Then everyone headed into the courtyard to take advantage of the autumnal rays. Upon leaving the church the excited newlyweds were showered in coloured confetti before posing for more photographs and making their way to the restaurant for their wedding reception and dinner. Unfortunately, we couldn’t be with them because Babe was not feeling well and we’d an hour’s drive home. We gave the wedding gift to the proud father for the couple. After hugs to the in-laws, we made our way home. It had been a wonderful day.
“The bride and groom---
May their joys be as bright as the morning, and their sorrows but shadows that fade in the sunlight of love”
~Minna Thomas Antrim, A Book of Toasts, 1902~
We then welcomed the Autumn Equinox, traditionally served as the day where farmers brought in their harvests, which explained why the full moon nearest the Equinox was often called the harvest moon. The word equinox was derived from the Latin, meaning equal night. After the autumnal equinox, the days got shorter and the nights got longer. Autumn marked the return of hot chocolate, burning bonfires and cosy nights in, which made it one of the most beautiful time of the year.
John Keat’s season of mist and mellow fruitfulness was with us once again and the best way to appreciate autumn was to see the changing colours of the trees. According to the Forestry Commission, the first trees to turn was the native trees such as dogwood and common spindle, followed by maples, rowans and ironwood. It was breath-taking seeing the dots of colour among the foliage as it turned from green to red to chestnut brown.
“I am here, O Lord, I am here!’
Approximately 60 days after the end of Ramadan, two millions Muslims, from all over the world repeated the above chant as they entered the holy city of Mecca to begin their pilgrimage, the Haj, which was one of the Five Pillars or basic requirements of Islam. Every adult Muslim who was physically fit and financially able was required to perform the Haj at least once as it was believed that Allah forgave the sins of those who performed the pilgrimage with devotion and sincerity. A global community living out their faith, representing a tremendous diversity of languages and cultures, social classes and professions. One day, insyallah, we will make this amazing, soul-searching experience too.
At the end of the 5-day Haj, Muslims throughout the world celebrated Eid-al-Adha, or Festival of Sacrifice, commemorating when Allah sent Ibrahim a ram as a substitute for sacrificing his son. Unfortunately this year, it was the ultimate sacrifice for the 2,385 pilgrims that were killed in a stampede on the final day of the pilgrimage, during the stoning of the devil at the Jamarat Bridge in Mina. Our thoughts and prayers were with the victims and their families. Al-Fatehah.
Later in the week, we got ready for a rare double feature. For the first time in more than 30 years, we witnessed a red supermoon in combination with a lunar eclipse. A total lunar eclipse masked the moon’s larger-than-life face. That combination hadn’t been seen since 1982 and won’t happened again until 2033. The last ‘blood moon’ occurred over Easter and this ‘supermoon’ lunar eclipse formed the fourth event in a ‘Tetrad’ which was believed to mark the beginning of significant events and even the end of the world in some religions.
When a full or new moon made its closest approach to Earth, in its elliptical egg-shaped orbit, it was called a supermoon. Although still 222,000 miles away, this full moon looked bigger and brighter than usual. This combined with a lunar eclipse, when full moon past through the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow, the umbra. The eclipse began when a dark ‘bite’ was seen taken out the moon on the part of it nearest the horizon. Babe woke me up as the moon passed into the shadows and turned red. It was worth staying up for this.
“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody”
We visited Airbase again. Babe wasn’t happy with the photographs that we took when we were here in August. It was a lovely day for photography and we took hundreds to our hearts content. It was strange to see how quiet it was compared to 2 weeks ago when the whole place was teeming with airplane enthusiasts to say farewell to the Avro Vulcan XH558. We browsed the hangar where the Classic Air Force celebrated those uncertain Cold War years by bringing together the largest collection of post-war classic aircraft outside the Unite States. We also spent time reading the illustrated displays and technologies of the early jet age.
Flight is freedom in its purest form,
To dance with the clouds which follow a storm;
To roll and glide, to wheel and spin,
To feel the joy that swells within.
To leave the earth with its troubles and fly,
And know the warmth of a clear spring sky;
Then back to earth at the end of the day,
Released from the tensions which melted away.
Should my end come while I am in flight,
Whether brightest day or darkest night;
Spare me no pity and shrug off the pain,
Secure in the knowledge that I'd do it again.
For each of us is created to die,
And within me I know,
I was born to fly.
~Gary Claude Stoker~
One of my favourite birds was the Long-tailed tits and I was very pleased when a flock appeared in our garden. It was rare to see this adorable bird on its own. They were gregarious birds and travelled around together in family parties or small bands. Slightly fluffy in appearance was the reason they had been given ‘muffler’ or ‘mufflin’ names. Muffin was also a term of affection and aptly bestowed on such an appealing bird. The tail was the most remarkable feature and accounted for more than half of its total length. During their short, undulating flights, the tails dipped up and down. A small flock moved in rapid surges through the trees or across a hedge in restless waves like flying teaspoons with their extraordinary tails or ‘bumbarrels’ as handles.
“And coy bumbarrels twenty in a drove
Flit down the hedgerows in the frozen plain
And hang on little twigs and start again”
September was also Moth Night, an annual celebration of moth recording throughout Britain and Ireland by enthusiasts. We didn’t baited the garden with tobacco and alcohol to lure in the giant migrant moths nor do we have the expensive moth traps. Instead, we ventured out nightly and checked the garden armed with our cameras. Our neighbours were so used to us wandering about in the garden at night by now :-). We don’t have the exotic winged wonders in the garden but we were still excited to see the common ones. And we were delighted to be introduced to this Old Lady, named because its marking resembled the shawl once worn by elderly women.
'Tis placid midnight, stars are keeping
Their meek and silent course in heaven;
Save pale recluse, for knowledge seeking,
All mortal things to sleep are given.
But see! a wandering Night-moth enters,
Allured by taper gleaming bright;
A while keeps hovering round, then ventures
On Goethe's mystic page to light.
With awe she views the candle blazing;
A universe of fire it seems
To moth- savante with rapture gazing,
Or Fount whence Life and Motion streams.
What passions in her small heart whirling,
Hopes boundless, adoration, dread;
At length her tiny pinions twirling,
She darts and — puff! — the moth is dead!
The sullen flame, for her scarce sparkling,
Gives but one hiss, one fitful glare;
Now bright and busy, now all darkling,
She snaps and fades to empty air.
Her bright gray form that spread so slimly,
Some fan she seemed of pigmy Queen;
Her silky cloak that lay so trimly,
Her wee, wee eyes that looked so keen,
Last moment here, now gone for ever,
To nought are passed with fiery pain;
And ages circling round shall never
Give to this creature shape again!
Autumn was knocking at the door, and although I love and embrace each season, I was quite reluctant to say good-bye to the leisurely days of summer …but I know that the times and seasons were a part of the Master’s plan.
“Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky and makes it flow as spring [and rivers] in the earth; then He produces thereby crops of varying colours; then they dry and you see them turned yellow; then He makes them [scattered] debris. Indeed in that is a reminder for those of understanding.”