It is relatively easy to gauge when the grapes are ready to harvest, or a squash or courgette is mature. The size and colour give ample clues that they are ready to pick. this week has been the time to gather the grapes from the vine, they are dark and sweet. as far as the courgettes are concerned, as I have been away on holiday for two weeks they have become oversized and instead of zucchini they are marrows. And now that colder nights are here the plants themselves show signs of dying off, so the remainder of the squashes need to be taken indoors before frosts strike. I have also harvested the remainder of the pears and the last of the beetroot.
When a person reaches maturity is much harder to estimate. My youngest daughter is forty years old today. I remember being told that forty is the age of maturity. But has she not reached maturity years ago? I am now in my seventies but I am not sure that I am fully mature even now. I am still learning and so still growing, even though my body may not be as fit and healthy as it was some years ago.
One example of how I am still changing is my decision to scrap my diesel car and exchange it for a totally electric car. I bought the diesel believing it to be less harmful to the environment and more fuel-efficient for the large mileage I was having to do in my work. Now, older and wiser, I discover that the particles diesel fuel discharges are worse than petrol emissions. If we are to restrict the increase in global temperature to somewhere near 2º Centigrade then all of us will have to reduce our carbon footprint. Switching to electric, with the increase in solar and wind generation will help towards that.
Having an electric care means rethinking my driving style and planning journeys differently. I will have a range of about 180 miles on a full charge. Learning to drive smoothly and using braking to put charge back into the battery will be early challenges. Which destinations are within reach for a return journey so I can recharge at home will also make me think carefully about car use. And where are the charging points and how do I pay for using them?
I am also coming to the end of my service as a Trustee of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre and laying down my role as Local Meeting Co-Clerk. I am taking on other roles but I am already thinking of when these new pieces of service should end. Adjusting to new experiences and an again body mean that maturity is still something I am aiming for rather than having achieved it.
Meanwhile my studies for my MA enter the second year. So I am still a student in the academic sense. Mature student? Perhaps!
Maturity may mean being both contented and discontented with where I am in life. To be at ease within myself, and yet discomforted with the injustices and inequality in the world are both necessary if I am to be mature. How would you describe being mature?