Search
  • Gracie Carmichael

Tales from Summer's Slow Decline

Dear friend,


I'm so glad you could join me on this fine summer's day. August has been a month of busy preparations for the swift-approaching autumn, and seeing also to the less romantic tasks which everyday life may bring without a moment's warning—though "the humblest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them," Louisa May Alcott reminds us. Summer slipped gently in, and almost as gently I can see autumn advancing sooner than expected, though I shall give it my heartiest welcome.


The final days of August have passed with blustery winds and stormy afternoons, blowing the leaves and acorns into a wet whirl at my feet before I ever anticipated the coming change in seasons. Already the sweet-smelling goldenrod is showing its yellow brilliancy over the fields, and my heart is delighting in the final bursts of summer's garden-blooms.

Garnering time amid everyday busyness to drink in the beauties of the season is something I cherish, perhaps because I find I need the gentle reminder more than once in the day to be still...to look about me and recognize loveliness...to nurture the seeds of simple beauties until they become full-fledged gems.

❝𝚃𝚑𝚎 𝚙𝚘𝚠𝚎𝚛 𝚘𝚏 𝚏𝚒𝚗𝚍𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚋𝚎𝚊𝚞𝚝𝚢 𝚒𝚗 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚑𝚞𝚖𝚋𝚕𝚎𝚜𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚜 𝚖𝚊𝚔𝚎𝚜 𝚑𝚘𝚖𝚎 𝚑𝚊𝚙𝚙𝚢 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚕𝚒𝚏𝚎 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚕𝚢.❞

-𝐋𝐨𝐮𝐢𝐬𝐚 𝐌𝐚𝐲 𝐀𝐥𝐜𝐨𝐭𝐭


I turn to Alcott so often for encouragement in nurturing the heart's mission to cherish all that I hold dear and true of a simpler life. Those sentiments have made the days, once so lusterless without seeking beauty, now fuller, lovelier, and more beautiful because of the precious little things that were always there...always waiting to be recognized by those whose hearts and eyes are open to them.


Will you look back on this summer with the knowledge that you sought beauty, and found it? You may have sown the seeds for nurturing loveliness, and are perhaps waiting now for the first signs of a beautiful heart-harvest. Know that it's there even now—only find it with a heart ready to embrace it, even if it doesn't end up looking quite like you imagined it would.

For myself, the little beauties exacted this summer have been all the more precious for being nurtured in the still moments—the slow lapse of an hour in a quiet field...trimming stalks of zinnias from the garden for a bouquet...opening a letter from a pen-pal...donning flowery sundresses on days with no occasion to leave the house...pressing the collected wildflowers of a morning walk between the pages of a thick book.


Evaluating the tokens of the Season

One of the dear heart lessons I've learned this summer about seeking purity and loveliness was something I had to re-learn, or perhaps re-nurture, having forgotten it in the seasons that have lapsed since I first harkened to its soundness. It stems from a word of wisdom I heard from a beloved professor years ago: "Who you are right now is a combination of what you're reading, what you're watching, and the people you're spending time with." I have had to take that truth to heart again this summer, evaluating the things I put into my life and meriting them for what they bring to me—unworthy distraction, or lasting beauty?


We are so constantly being influenced without knowing it—in listening to the spoken thoughts of others, sharing in their company; reading books that are slowly shaping our mind-view, whether to broaden our scope or limit it. Voices are all about us, and it's only in the stilling of our hearts and the setting of our minds at peace that we begin to realize how very noisy the static of our thoughts has been under such influences. Reflect on this summer; what voices filled your heart whether you were aware of them at the time or not?


I've come to learn that seeking the beauty of a simple life really only comes once we first simplify. I don't mean converting to material minimalism and changing one's life drastically. I really mean, sorting out the influences—quieting the voices—seeking stillness. How did you fill your time this summer, and what influences were active? Did the books you read bring beauty into your life, or did they set your mind on cold, hard things that bore no resemblance to the loveliness you seek? Did you watch programs that left you feeling unsatisfied or empty, meriting nothing for the time spent under their influence?


Whatever your own moral compass is derived on—for myself, it's my faith that guides me—

I believe it's a good and healthy thing to evaluate the influences in your own life. Seasonal transitions are a marvelous time to do that, as it is in that evaluation that we exert control over what we are going to bring with us out of one season and into the next. What will you bring with you into autumn?


When it comes time to evaluate, here are a few questions that I think will help to guide you.

  1. Is this book/program/person adding or subtracting to my personal growth?

  2. Do I feel stressed, unsettled, or anxious after I've poured time into this?

  3. What does this book/program/person celebrate? Do the values that are being represented match my own?

  4. Am I wasting my time and energy through this? Has it simply become a distraction to fill a greater void or a blank hour?

I hope you are able to find satisfaction and relief in evaluating summer's tokens, and as we approach autumn, I would love to encourage you to fill you heart with things that will bring you joy and peace to cherish through the coming months. If you are seeking a few ideas on what lovely, good, gentle and wise things to take the place of old voices, I would be delighted to share a few ideas.


A List for Nurturing Loveliness this Autumn

Books I Recommend

  • Jane of Lantern Hill, L.M. Montgomery

  • The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

  • Howards End, E.M. Forster

  • Little Men, Louisa May Alcott

  • Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen

  • The Flower Fairies of the Autumn, Cicely Mary Barker

  • A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett

  • The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful, James Herriot

Film/TV Programs I Recommend

  • All Creatures Great and Small (1978-1980) or (2021-)

  • Cranford (2007-2010)

  • Howards End (2018 mini-series)

  • Miss Potter (2007)

  • The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

  • This Beautiful Fantastic (2016)

All of these selections I have made with autumn particularly in mind, and many of which I have mentioned in previous blog posts, such as my Britbox Watchlist which I shared earlier this month.


I sincerely hope that you will embrace summer's slow transition into autumn with a renewed peace in your heart, and a determination to seek out loveliness and all that touches your mind with light and jollity. It's my goal that this post brings you some encouragement in that noble quest, dear kindred spirit. If you would like to share with me what little beauties have made life brighter and sweeter for you this summer, I would be so glad if you left a comment below! If you would like to talk between kindred spirits or hear more ideas about nurturing the everyday loveliness, you can always send a message direct to me from the box under the About page, here. I would love to chat with you! :)


Until next time, darling friend,

-Gracie

Want to follow along on Instagram? You can find me @austensandalcotts to see what I'm reading next, interact with other readers, and hear what's new on the blog. You can also subscribe to the Austens & Alcotts mailing list at the bottom of this post to get a twice-monthly newsletter from me to your inbox, where I share reading updates, shop releases, and more subscriber-only details!