This morning I opened my curtains to a familiar, yet long absent, rainy Autumn day. I love the quarterly change of seasons, but the drift from Summer to Autumn is my favourite. Don’t misunderstand me, I adore the sight of daffodils pushing their brave green scouts through the ground as Winter surrenders to Spring, and I wouldn’t miss the batton of colour being passed from Spring to Summer or the heady scent of peacocking blooms challenging for supremacy as the long days amble into unhurried evenings. But I reserve most of my contentment for Autumn.
Last week, I felt my first frisson of excitement for Autumn when I read this beautiful short story by Richard Ankers. It speaks of summer being blown aside by ‘the-season-between’ to make way for the winter snows. It describes the rust, copper, ochre and claret landscape littered with the discarded ‘punk apples’ of the sycamore trees. I urge you to read it, it will enchant you.
To me, the bliss of the season is encapsulated by the ability to sweep aside the much disdained summer wardrobe in favour of soft jumpers, fluffy socks and perfume impregnated scarves. Flimsy shoes that pained my feet with thin soles and small stones are discarded in favour of beloved boots and bouncy trainers. In a few short weeks, I will light the wood burning stove for the first time and stare at the dancing flames in my living room as the nights draw in and wrap my little home in early darkness. I will be warm, cosy and content.
At least, this is the rose tinted view I present to myself while ‘the-season-between’ approaches. What it represents in reality, in addition to the list of my favourite things above, is the realisation that I face several months of hanging giant sheets and duvet covers over internal doors because it’s too wet outside to dry them. Of catching the dog as he runs through the door to dry his paws and disastrously low undercarriage and reminding me how, when the cold mud slaps me in the face, I broke the front mudguard off my bike in a summer fit and didn’t replace it. Autumn reminds me how woefully unprepared I always am for the rainy season, how my children’s wellington boots are at least a size too small, how their raincoats somehow still only cover their elbows despite buying new ones last year and how their school shoes should have been replaced a month ago according to their wet socks.
Despite this, Autumn truly is my favourite season, the younger, playful sibling to the harsher, bleakly beautiful winter. There is no rivalry here, no sign of the oneupmanship displayed by Spring and Summer. It exists in its own state, doing its own thing. We have no expectations, we ask it not for warmth or frost, we accept what it offers as we wait patiently for it to clear the detritus left by the excess of summer’s exploits and make way for winter, snow and Christmas. We expect the slimy layers of discarded leaves, the rotting, unpicked fruits littering the fields and the limp grasses dragging in the flowing rivers. Autumn is nature’s groundskeeper, clearing the way for a cleansing winter and the rebirth of spring, yet it goes about it’s businesses undeterred and unnoticed in its unremarkable way.
Except I notice it, I wait for it impatiently. My favourite time of year, the understated, introverted season. Perhaps there’s a reason I relate to it so.