Heat seared, sizzling across parched earth, and the cloudless sky, a hothouse dome, desiccated leaves and flora. Listless and languid, folk wandered aimlessly, unable to bear the sultry oppression and Summer’s impasse.Her eyes darted from house to house; windows wide, porch doors open, and dogs sleeping with lolling tongues and trails of slobber. Inside, people rested hot and sticky, irascible and ornery. Her brow furrowed and she stared across the yellowed hills. Autumn was late.As the sirocco tickled her frazzled mind she swept her jade skirts high up into the hills and sought out a crevice, a deep, dark crevice. She gathered her volumes of green about her and traipsed inside. The welcome cool whispered and the ground sighed with each step she took, until she paused and stared at the vast lump curled up before her.
She prodded the lump.
Light mist rose in the shadows and she spoke. “Wake up!”
A low growl emanated from the bowels of the cave and a petulant tail swung back and forth. She stood with folded arms and gleaming eyes. “Why are you still here, at this time of year?”
The dragon opened a golden eye, stretched and flexed his claws, dragging them back beneath him with a huge yawn. “I’m not needed.”
Her mouth set into a narrow line, “And why not?”
“I bring nothing of worth.” His head slumped to the floor smoke spiralling from his nostrils. “I herald death and loss…”
She stroked her bottom lip as she contemplated his reply and raised an eyebrow. “Why would you say that?”
Ethereal whorls of mist filled the cavern as the dragon sighed. “Think about it…” he began, “Spring wafts in on Winter’s wings, bringing rebirth and life, dew on grass, buds that unfurl and a breeze that revives. Summer arrives with a confidence that I’ve never known! He rides in on rays of sun and warmth that brings everyone out to have fun. Flowers burst forth and trees are clothed with glory. Then there’s me…I bring a plethora of frost and destruction. I bring rain and force everyone back into their jackets. And don’t talk to me about Winter! She knows joy! People don’t hide away in her blizzards they come back out to play. She decorates the trees with diamonds and protects the sleeping flora with a blanket of snow. So, this year, I’m giving it a miss.”
The woman ran her finger thoughtfully across her lips. “Have you seen it out there?” she asked.
He shook his head. “Well, you should. You’re late and they’re waiting for you.” and she turned on her heels. “Don’t disappoint me…” her voice faded with her footsteps.
As she vanished into the far halo of light the dragon lifted his head. Guilt flooded his heart and sorrow filled his mind. The floor still twinkled where she’d stepped and he sighed. No one ever said no to Mother Nature.
Smoke coiled and flames flickered in his belly, and he unsteadily got to his feet. He trudged through the cavern stepping out into the blinding sun. Summer’s stifling heat hit him and as Summer roared, opening his jaw to release a blast from the furnace within, Autumn knew Summer had overstayed his welcome.
Yellow fireballs flew and Autumn sprang into the glaring sky. Autumn’s scales rippled and he launched toward the golden dragon. He threw flames of burnished copper and bronze, and explosions erupted as they battled. The two dragons glinted and shone, and fire rained down in sheets of molten spray. Swirls of smoke fogged up the sky until the thrash of wings and tails, and fire subsided as the fight rose up into the stratosphere, high above the heat ravaged land.
Below, the people came out to witness the turn of the season and cheered as clouds filled the sky and light rain fell. Petrichor filled nostrils, the scent of mulch enlivened the forests and the flora swayed in the fresh breeze.
The battle raged on for days, but Summer’s weariness took its toll and Autumn banished the dragon into the far reaches of the land, into the deserts to rest.
Autumn slowly ventured home, breathing ribbons of amber and gold. Flames of crimson, and copper, and ochre danced across tired, green leaves, and robed them in colours of passion and zeal. Light mists and diamond showers filled the parched creeks and rivers, and fresh greensward sprang forth. The sky was bluer, the grass greener, and folk happier, and Autumn finally saw the excitement and energy he sparked.
Flush-cheeked lovers kicked through rustling rivers of russet and chestnut leaves. They kissed in the rain, and rejoiced in the cool zephyrs that whispered and gusted through trees. They harvested as red apples ripened and the fields turned gold, and gratitude filled the air.
Autumn rose in the sky, his burnished vermillion scales glinting in the sun’s soft rays, and as dusk fell he flamed the sky with the colours of joy and desire.
High in the hills, Mother Nature’s auburn hair glinted in Autumn’s flame, and she raised an eye brow as she watched the dragon soar across the blazing sky. Mother Nature was never wrong.
Read Spring’s and Winter’s tales: Spring Symphony and Winter Hope.