We seem to be having something of an Indian Summer, and I feel a little cheated. With temperatures predicted to be in the 80s at the very end of September, I wonder what on earth is happening to our weather. I love sunshine as much as anyone but we’ve had a reasonable Summer, at least here in the south east of England, and I’m now keen for a change in the scenery.
Autumn is my favourite time of the year. While others may develop Seasonal Affective Disorder and begin to think of hibernating, I find renewed energy and enthusiasm. Autumn always seems to be rich with new choices, possibilities and promise. Maybe it’s because the new academic year begins in Autumn and I always loved going back to school: new clothes, new pens and pencils, new teacher, new report card, maybe even new school. There would certainly be a newly deep-cleaned school at the very least with highly polished floors and classrooms smelling of new paint. Autumn is a more positive time for making changes than New Year, which always seems to be much more about atonement and self-denial. With cold winds, short days and the festivities and extravagances of Christmas so recently finished, it’s a difficult time to be contemplating change in a positive light. Autumn is different. Autumn begins with Harvest Festival and thoughts of being grateful for what we have.
In recent years, Autumn has begun to resonate with other festivities. I was married in Autumn and my son was born in Autumn. Once the anniversaries of those events are past, there is the promise of so much else to follow: Halloween, bonfire night and ultimately, Christmas. In between times, whilst we may lament the ever shortening daylight hours, there are often chilly but brilliantly bright and sunny days, with clear blue skies and dazzling sunshine. One of my favourite things is to kick through the crispy fallen leaves like a small child. These days I kick through them with my own small child while out on a conker hunt. He loves to prise them from their prickly surrounds and carry them around in a pouch attached to the front of his bike. I love seeing the spider webs in the frosty mornings, clearly visible on the bushes with the weight of the moisture in the air to emphasise them, where a few hours previously they had been invisible. This is something else I can now share with my own small child as well as my inner one.
When all that healthy outdoor activity is over, I love seeking warmth and comfort at a pub or restaurant, preferably one with a real log fire. In Summer, restaurants are for either avoiding the rain or for sitting outside in the sunshine. In the Autumn, however, it’s all about getting warm with nourishing food and hot coffees, slowly feeling fingers and toes defrost, enjoying a first glass of wine while choosing something comforting from the menu. Long lunches were made for Autumn afternoons, where the ever changing weather can be monitored from the warmth and security of a table laden with all kinds of seasonal delicacies.
In the Autumn an appealing stillness develops and a quietness descends as animals go into hibernation and plants and trees let their leaves fall in preparation for Winter’s suspended animation. This is no occasion for mourning but more the prelude to a period of quiet renewal and regeneration before the world slowly comes back to life again next Spring.