Is it too early to say the “A-word”?

Will you forgive me if I start getting excited about Autumn in August?

A couple of times in my recent blogs, I’ve alluded to the shifting of seasons, ending of summer, and arrival of autumn. I’ve been seeking out the signs of this change with much enthusiasm. Many of my colleagues and other people I meet seem to link I’m a little bit mad, as they clinging onto summer, determined to resist the season that for them is characterised by wind rain and darkening evenings.

But there’s no arguing with the robins.

The favourite songbird of our gardens, parks and hedgerows has begun to sing again, bringing its sweet tunes back to our dreary Monday mornings. These are adult birds, which now they have finished moulting are getting ahead with proclaiming territorial rights that they will hold over winter in preparation for next spring. And there are young birds too, learning their vocabulary and establishing territories of their own. After the summer quiet, the return to full voice of these little birds is a sure and certain sign that autumn is getting underway. And I couldn’t be happier about it!

I have been thinking about this relationship with the seasons, why it would be that autumn is my favourite of all, or why the social expectation seems to be an obsession with summer whilst we vilify winter. The latter can be excused as a fear of the dark, not actual womb-like natural dark that allows us to see such wonders as stars and meteors, but the cold-dark, death-dark, metaphor-dark of shadows and starvation.  A fixation with summer is surely a mourning for the innocence and freedom of childhood, never quite achieved with the same intensity in later years.

But why not love autumn? It’s too easy, too obvious to view the season as the decaying theft of summer, the gathering gloom, just a precursor to a season that is colder and bleaker. I am a midsummer baby, born at the end of June, and as such, it could be expected that summer would be my season. Summer however is too hot and crowded for my taste, too full of social pressure, and stagnant with humidity and far too much sun. Perhaps as a June birth, it was at 3/4/5-months old that I first began to fully connect and engage with the world, just as the season slipped into autumn in all its glory. I prefer heaps of crisp leaves to sand castles, golden hour light to midday glare…  the textures of wood and wool, and the tart sweetness of berry juice, are the glinting-gold highlights that spark joy in my life. The robins have begun to sing, spiders’ webs crisscross the garden on mornings heavy with dew, and fields have turned to gold. There is a hint of red on the hawthorn berries that swell where cream blossom petals fell, and the apples release with an upward twist of a cupped palm. Still sharp, but almost ripe, growing with every sunlit shower.

In two nights time it’ll be full moon, August is half-way flown, and our end-of-summer holiday is fast approaching. My Pinterest mood board is suffused with bronze and ambers, and I have a new pair of rust coloured dungarees to wear. This weekend our corner of the countryside has been battered by storm winds, followed today by thunderous downpours of almost frightening ferocity. Home at last after a wet and frantic day, I’ve made myself a cinnamon tea with a touch of apple cider vinegar and a spoonful of local honey, pulled on a warm sweater and changed into dry socks. Later I will sit on the rug in front of the sofa and tear newspaper into strips to stack neatly in the bottom of the kindling basket beside the fire-place. I must remember to get the ingredients for tomorrow’s slow cooker meal out of the freezer to defrost, before I head to bed.

Thinking about the changing seasons reminds me, it’s time to write myself another seasonal to do list…

  • Look for the full moon or meteors in the night sky
  • Make a pear and cinnamon cake and eat warm with cream or custard
  • Go for a long walk along the old railway line in mid-September, (just as I did when we first moved into this home that same month last year).
  • Watch/Listen to thunderstorms
  • Make chutney with allotment produce
  • Host a supper gathering with friends/family for the harvest festivals of Mabon or Samhain
  • Visit the locally-famous Slindon Pumpkins display, and bring home a pumpkin to carve
  • Spend a day at Findon Sheep Fair celebrating rural life
  • Jump in a pile of leaves and splash through puddles in my bright red wellingtons
  • Make a list of slow cooker/crock pot recipes to try
  • Light candles for a cosy feeling
  • Curl up under a blanket with a favourite book on a rainy day
  • Watch for autumn migrant birds – note the last day I see a swallow
  • Attend plant/natural dyes course (hosted at Sussex Wildlife Trust Woods Mill Reserve)
  • Order logs for winter heating and chop kindling
  • Look for cosy jumpers in charity shops (#SecondhandSeptemeber)

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