Is there any better weather than that on a beautiful, early autumn day? The sky is clear blue and in the sunshine it’s warm, but there is a refreshing coolness in the air. We are not quite in need of woollens yet, but we are edging ever closer and for that I am glad.
What? But autumn inevitably leads to winter and the cold, wet darkness. Why would anyone be glad about that? Especially after the non-summer we’ve had here. Too much rain, too many grey skies and only a handful of sunny days; we’ve been complaining all summer. To me, it’s not been so bad. A bit too soggy, for sure, but I’ve not felt cold for months. The last few early mornings have been the first time I’ve felt the sharpness in the air that signals the end of summer.
And hurrah to that, even if we do have a few days of so-called Indian summer coming. The temperature today was perfect; warm enough to make everyone feel a bit happier, but not so warm that the sweaty old birds like me start to get uncomfortable. Utterly delightful, except for the fact that I was stuck in an office most of the day.
It was difficult to focus I admit. The window next to my desk was open and the fresh air was enticing me, encouraging me to flee. If it was the law of the land that a free day was granted to every working person each month, this would have been mine. Instead of work, it should have been a day for travel, plotting, dreaming or, best of all, adventuring. Within an hour of this city, you can be in the woods, the hills or by the sea, all easily reached by a train, five minutes walk from my desk. Some days I am more aware of this than others.
Today should have been spent on a hill; winding upwards through a forest, under a canopy of colourful trees, out and up towards the open sky. No sound but the noise of my breath in my ears, and the crunch of leaves beneath my feet. Peace to think and places to be inspired by. Fertile ground for planning and looking forward.
The symbolism of autumn in art and poetry is often related to sadness, ageing or the loss of time: the autumn years. Or it can be about harvest: that brief moment of ripeness, before the inevitable decay in winter. But I never see it that way. Instead it’s about new beginnings; the time to crack down, stop talking about things and get them done.
The coolness is a wake-up call, a gentle slap in the face of summer’s lethargy. Classrooms for the young and old are reopening and it’s time to start learning again. Maybe more of us should think about learning something new. Happy with what you are doing in life? If yes, great but if no, then what are you doing about changing it? Finally getting round to exploring something you’ve always been interested in could ignite a passion that takes you somewhere new, or bring contentment to the life you have.
The time to think about this is now. Do it while the crisp morning air is full of possibilities, not when it’s starting to get dark. They say that it takes about three weeks of repeated behaviour to develop a new habit. In three weeks’ time it will be dark here in the early morning, so if you want to develop a running or gym habit, start it now, before the lure of the winter duvet becomes too strong. All the adult education terms will start soon: this is the time to enrol if you don’t want to miss out. We need to lay the foundations for good practices now, before the winter sneaks in and steals our motivation.
I’m going back to the idea of ripening. It’s pertinent to a woman of my years, as some might think I’ve reached the decaying stage of the game. It all depends how you define it. Fruit that is ripe is not ‘young’. Generally, the flesh is soft, not hard and taut. And you can’t rush it. You have to wait until it’s ready to eat. In some cases, that fruit will have been about for a while before it’s the right time. In the case of the avocado, that could be a very long time, and even if you put them in with a bunch of bananas, they still won’t bloody well ripen. When they do, it’s only for a day or so before they start to rot. Oh, the avocado can be such a cruel fruit.
I digress. The point is that we can worry about getting into our autumn years, or we can embrace the fact that we are (hopefully) finally ready to live life the way we want to. We need to be getting on with it before the decay sets in. Because the truer we are to ourselves then the happier we will be, and with that we have a much better chance of keeping the rot at bay.
Autumn is a glorious time, my favourite time, not only for the beauty of nature, but because it’s a time of new starts. And sometimes there is a sadness at what is lost, and fear of what is to come, but that’s what happens when you go on an adventure.
by Carl Sandberg
I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.
The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper
sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.
The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes,
new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind,
and the old things go, not one lasts.
Until next time,