Autumn Sky


I’ve posted photos of this sky before, and it seems to be turning into a bit of a series. The photos are taken somewhere I visit regularly, and at the same time in the evening, so are a good illustration of the seasons as they change. Now the nights are starting to draw in, the leaves burning with autumn colours. Soon it will be full circle again, back to the original image I took.

When I was in high school, I had an Ancient History professor called Mr. Mawson. He was always dapper in jacket and tie, his beard silver, his tone dignified. He had two sayings that he used often – one was, ‘Don’t be sorry, be on time.’ That one is self-explanatory, I think. The other was, ‘Look at the tree.’ This was a little less obvious. When he said it, he would gesture to the tree outside our second-floor classroom, and we would all look at the tree. There would be a moment of silence, then he would go back to discussing Sparta or Corinth or some other city-state, as though nothing had happened.

I never really knew why he said that. We all talked about it, of course. ‘What is the deal with the tree?’ I wondered whether it was to remind us of the impermanence of things, a commentary that everything comes to an end, just like the mighty civilisations he taught us about, their cities and accomplishments returning to dust. Or perhaps it was to mark the passing of the seasons, a reminder that time was marching on, taking us with it. I never asked him, and I wish I had.

And now, as I take pictures of the same tree through the seasons, I wonder if it was just about observation. But I guess I’ll never know.


17 thoughts on “Autumn Sky

  1. That’s interesting. “Look at the tree.” I think such a simple directive can pull us out of our own thoughts and draw us to the things we might otherwise not notice. There’s a lesson there, and a very good one. 🙂

    • It is, isn’t it? As teenagers I think we weren’t really able to appreciate all he was telling us – yet his words have stayed with me all these years. I think on some level it must have really resonated. 🙂

  2. It’s the seemingly simple little comments that often have the greatest impact in our lives. I had a history teacher who told us to think about what a word meant before we used it: “What is the greatest thing you know?” he asked. “And define ‘great’. Think about the implications of that word, define it in your mind. What is ‘great’?” That made me appreciate the value and strength of words. Quite possibly the best English lesson I ever had… from a history teacher. 🙂

  3. You should google him find out where he is and email him. He’d probably love to hear from a former student and know he’d made such an impression.

  4. I’m with Ali. Though I hope he is still here to reveal his secret. And if not, maybe he just meant for you to interpret his words in your own personal ways. Which you seem to have done pretty well, I’d say.

    • Thanks, Elissaveta. I do suspect he’s shuffled off this mortal coil, but you never know what I might find when I Google him. It is interesting, though, that his words stayed with me. And that he never explained them to us.

  5. Pingback: Bits and Pieces | Journey To Ambeth

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