So, the forecasters project we are in line for the warmest October on record and the pictures show sun worshippers and their deck chairs in central London. But, while most of the population eulogise about the mild weather and delightful russet hues, I’ve retreated into my annual hibernation, curled up against diminishing light and shortening days.
I hate autumn; an enmity first developed during the dreich Scottish autumns of childhood, festered further when required to work inflexible hours that conspired against any possible glimpses of daylight and remains today, albeit lessened recently by the privilege of a freelance life .
Normally, a walk, bike ride, a brief breath of air and the chance to enjoy a sight of some flora and fauna will raise my mood, even on the wettest, or bitterest days. So, why this antipathy to autumn, many people’s favourite season of the entire year?
Essentially, autumn is the dying season, the sanguine detritus of leaves and foliage represents the expiring of the natural year; clearly necessary for the reborn vibrant green of next spring, but for me, a time of sadness, not celebration.
Ultra-warm temperatures in late October are also, not only incongruous but a waste of a nice day: I mean, what’s the point of 20 degrees at four pm when it’s dark outside? This kind of warmth (particularly after the clock change) makes it morally impossible to light the fire at a time when there’s not enough daylight to enjoy a couple of hours in the garden.
Mid autumn is also the time for the two most abused and pointless ‘festivals’ of the calendar year: Halloween, now a gross, Americanisation of an important connection with both Christian and Pagan traditions, closely followed by the bizarre excuse to celebrate the torture and murder of a hapless plotter. Is it just me, or doesn’t Burn a Catholic Night seem increasing incongruous in today’s troubled world?
But – and, of course, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel – looking on the bright side, dismal, depressing autumn will soon be over, replaced by the bright, sharp days (well, at least when it’s not raining) of winter. The shortest days, with their cold, clear light are often the best time of the year for cycling and walking. They also provide the ideal excuse for layering up, slow cooking comfort food and recovering in front of a re-assuring open fire.
And, by the time we get Christmas over with, the days, gradually but inexorably, will begin to lengthen.
Over to You Percy:
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?