The Northern sky of Estonia makes for a long twilight in the summer, and as the seasons gradually roll past I drive out from Tallinn in mid evening. The air is full of the smell of the new-harvested barley- a wholesome, delicious smell like fresh linen. The crickets are singing in the verges- the sign of late summer, as all the swallows have gathered and started their trek south.
The storks too have already started for Africa, and before long the great ribbons of clanking geese will be seen decorating the sky. The late summer light- grey-white and flecked with the colours of the sunset makes every needle of the sharp shapes of the pines and spruce stand out as a tangible shadow. Passing the woods leaves the cool scent of earth and the sound of the small birds in the air.
The warm days of summer are drawing to an end, and before long the languor will be replaced by the brittle chill and the first frost. The winter- long and dark and snowy- looms as a presence at the end of this day. In a few short weeks the skies will be dark and silent while those on the ground brace themsleves against the pervading chill.
In the gloaming I catch sight of a few cheerful twinkles from the country houses, there the people are gathering wood and apples, bottling fruit and mushrooms. The cycle of the seasons has not yet changed for Estonians and, as in my own British childhood, fruit comes in and out of season. After the forest strawberries, the raspberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and the cherries we now have the blackberries and the apples- the last harvest before the frost.
As the crows settle on the barley stubble of a good harvest, I reflect on the consoling power of the seasons of harvest and renewal. Returning to the light and the relative silence of the city, a little of me stays amid the sounds and scents of the darkening woods.