I wrote this in September! Just hadn’t had a chance to post it. Thought I’d better get a move on because it’s feeling less autumnal and more wintry…
I love autumn. Being me, of course, I love every season – they all have certain bewitching qualities unique to whatever time of year they’re in. There’s something special about the beginning of autumn, though, in the same way as spring, that signals endings and beginnings in a slightly different way. Summer and winter are extremes and sometimes the ending of an excess into something more manageable can bring a sense of relief. The intense heat and bright light of summer (if you’re lucky) changes into something more mellow. A good starting off point to ease you into the freezing depths of winter.
Winter reminds me of how people tend to talk about and reflect upon experiences of a traditional birth (I specifically use the word traditional because I’m well aware of how differently, and in some cases badly things can go and therefore how people’s experiences of labour and birth might be very different from the ‘norm’). When winter’s here and we’re right in it, we moan and get tired of it, often hate it (even if we enjoy it a bit too, with snow and hot toddies and Christmas carols and – more importantly – a reason to wear ear muffs), because it’s horrible getting out of a snuggly bed in the dark to go to work, and then finishing work when it’s dark again, so that everything seems dark, all the time. That feeling of it never ending, never getting better. The relentless drudgery of a routine enveloped in icy darkness. But when it’s over we usually forget exactly how horrible it was, forget how shockingly cold the toilet seat felt on your toasty bum at 6am, after which you had to walk miles to work because a bit of frozen water ceased all other modes of transportation and caused general chaos. Spring and summer, to me, are like the seasonal equivalent of the motherload of oxytocin you get after birth and when you’re breastfeeding, that usually makes you forget exactly how painful it was and stops you focusing on the fact that you just pushed an actual human being with an actual head out of your actual vagina. Because now you’ve got a beautiful baby (spring, with crisp air, blossom and baby animals, and summer, with sun, frolics and festivals) and it’s all ok again and there are no more mucus plugs, contractions or worries about pooing during labour and whether your baby will be healthy. Hurrah! Anyway. That’s how I feel about it. I am guessing many other people don’t, partly because they’re probably not as interested in pregnancy and birth as I am to make that comparison, and partly because they probably don’t think about all this stuff as much as me. I LOVE the transitioning of seasons, and seeing things change. It’s like magic, and too often we take no notice of it or just grumble it away as yet another inconvenience. It’s beautiful.
This summer wasn’t all that summery though, which was a tad disappointing. Sometimes it was glorious – blazing hot with clear blue skies and that shimmering in the distance – but there was no consistency, other than it seemed to rain an awful lot. On my birthday (in July) I usually have a beach barbecue, but this year I watched a thunderstorm from the safety of my seat while I chewed my bacon at brunch. It’s raining now as I am typing this. And as much as I don’t enjoy the daylight fading any sooner than it has to (goodbye Vitamin D, I miss you already), I love the sense of excitement and anticipation that the colder, darker air brings. I love smelling it, pointing my nose towards the sky and giving it a really good sniff. Seriously, it’s fun! That smell is so evocative and reminiscent of many lovely things. Cosy jumpers and crunchy leaves. Curling up in a hoodie with a hot water bottle and a really good book. Apple and cinnamon porridge, eaten out of pure want and joy, not just because it’s cheap and “I need to save money”. Candles and fairylights strewn about the place, creating that fuzzy glow both to look at and inside you. Jeff Buckley’s Grace and Sigur Ros’s Agaetis Byrjun. Lone afternoon walks in Stanmer Park, with a hugging pilgrimage to the beautiful, awe-inspiring tree. Air that makes your cheeks slightly smart and your eyes slightly water and your nose slightly cold. Sheep wearing their own cosy jumpers in preparation for the winter ahead. Sipping amaretto hot chocolate by an open fire in a pub, watching people come in from the cold. Thick, meaty stews and using-up-veg soups with crusty bread. Long talks over long walks or a lingering bottle of wine. Crumble with lashings of cream, straight out of an Enid Blyton book. Sparklers. Fireworks. Applefest at Middle Farm. Moving house (more times than I care to count…). Endings. New beginnings. The promise of things to come, uncertain but thrilling. The feeling of change and reflection, followed by reflection and change. It gives us so much, and I need to remind myself of that when it all feels a bit too dark for me to cope with, because I love it.
And just to finish off, one of my favourite autumnal songs. Gorgeous. (Take no notice of the subtitles, it doesn’t need them at all.)