This article was written for Dry Drayton News, September 2017.

The summer holidays have ended and new terms are starting. In the villages we hear again the voices of children in the school field. The farm fields are cut to stubble, or even ploughed and seeded, already anticipating a new start. The cornucopia of summer is now focusing down to the last few squashes, darkly purple blackberries and a bumper crop of apples. The green woodpecker is still hunting for ants in the Rectory orchard, but swallows and martins are scarce now. Later in the month we will pass through the autumn equinox, when light hours will begin slowly to give way to dark hours.

But let’s not rush the season along too soon. Here are some ideas to help us be mindful of September:

• Collect different kinds of seed heads and, depending on age and inclination, either display them artfully in a vase, or use them with playdoh to create a ‘garden’.

• If you are inspired by the colours of fruit and vegetables gathered for Harvest, and feeling adventurous, how about trying vegetable tie dye? It is, apparently, simpler than you think. Search for ‘tie dye on for instructions for doing this with children. Harvest bunting perhaps?

• Or you could plant bulbs outdoors or in pots for ready for indoors just after Christmas, as I do every year. This late summer ritual, reflecting the seasons, roots us in hope; participating in the Harvest Thanksgiving service has a similar purpose.

And a prayer for this time of year:

In this season of change, we trust in you, Lord.
With new classes and teachers, we trust in you, Lord.
As harvests are gathered, we trust in you Lord.
In sharing and giving, we trust in you, Lord.
Whatever changes we face Lord, we face them with you.
Help us trust in your goodness.
(From Prayers for Life in a Church Primary School; from ‘Jumping Fish’).