What does Autumn mean to you? Is it just another month nearer the end of the year? Does it signal the final end of summer and the start of a long hard winter? Or does it inspire you? For me it’s the latter… Autumn inspires me…
the change of the colours of the landscape from greens to browns to reds and yellows: the golden shades of the leaves whistling in the wind; there’s a fabulous little tree at the end of our close that turns the most beautiful shade of red. The hills in the distance warm up with colours of purple heather and dark browns…just waiting to turn white with the frost.
I love the feel of the fresh, crisp morning air against my cheeks and the click-click of the robin as he returns to the bird table for his breakfast. I love the deep throaty caw-caw of the crows in the large, timeless trees at the end of the lane…they always make me think of the wild moors described in the wonderful ‘Wuthering Heights’ that was compulsory reading at high school.
I love the sound of the leaves crunching beneath our feet and the smell of the neighbour’s log burner as we collect the remnants of the damsons for damson jam...one year we will make the damson wine we are always talking about! [Err…damson gin actually!]
The clouds seem to be whiter and the sky often is just a palette of striking blue…we call it a ‘Disney Sky’ when it’s this blue and not a cloud to be seen. That’s because many years ago…12 in fact…when the ‘Cutie-pie’ was a baby we had a fabulous return trip to Disney World Florida, just the four of us, for two weeks at the end of January/beginning of February. As luck would have it three days into the stay Florida suffered the coldest spell it had had in 7 years! You could see the steam rising from the outdoor pools, the hotels had heating blowing hot air out as fast as it could…people were shivering…BUT you could pick the English out a mile away…we’re all used to the cold! We bought Mickey Mouse woollen hats, scarves, gloves…we layered T-shirts and wore the winter jackets we had set off from England in…it didn’t ruin our holiday and each day we looked up to the sky: not a cloud to be seen just miles and miles of the purest, most brilliant, crystal blue sky...and the pinch of the cold on our faces made us alert and jet-lag free!
So every time we see the same kind of sky and feel the same kind of pinch on our cheeks we always turn to one another and sigh with longing… ‘Ah, a Disney Sky.’
To me Autumn means hot chocolate, toasted muffins, thick socks and cardigans. I can enjoy my winter plumage as I dress in swaths of wool and fuzzy materials. I can hide my varicose veins in my boots, my unkempt hair is under wraps in woolly hats and my wrinkly hands are hidden inside soft felt gloves…ooh I love these layers …no not in the house but when I’m outside! I feel like a lady from olden times: swishing along! I once had a fake fur hat that I could pull down around my ears…I thought I looked attractive and mysterious with only big brown eyes and luscious 'red-lipsticked' lips on display…until I caught sight of myself in a shop window…how on earth I thought I looked like Julie Christie in Doctor Zhivago I don’t know…more like a little girl dressing up in her mother’s…no, her grandmother’s…coat and hat!
For me it means that once we are all home for the night the fire is lit, the low light from the lamps reflect a warm glow across the walls, I light scented candles that waft cinnamon and winter spices throughout the house. We snuggle up in winter woollies, soft flannelette pyjamas, slipper socks and dressing gowns. Autumn evenings bring back the happy memories of sitting as a child by the open fire holding a piece of bread on a toasting fork…yes literally a huge fork with prongs and a long handle and you had to hold it at just the right distance from the flames or it would burn! But you can’t beat the taste of that toast smeared with butter that melted and dripped down your hand and stuck to the cuff of your pyjamas!
Autumn is the time for me to cosy up the house; extra duvets on the beds, soft, faux-fur throws, squishy pillows and cushions. I love extra cushions and throws on the settee ready for snuggling in front of the T.V. and twinkly lights in the hall way and kitchen give a feeling of warmth. I love that sense of being warm and cosy and safe inside no matter what the weather is.
It is a time for curling up and reading, the boys have inherited this gene and love sprawling out on their beds or next to me on the sofa and reading their favourite authors…peaceful. It means that Saturdays are slower paced and there’s no need for gardening, weeding, washing the car or painting fences.
It’s also a great family time too as we go for little walks and collect pine cones and horse chestnuts…conkers! Yes we love the traditional conker competitions with the boys polishing and preparing their best ones for battle! I love to dry the cones and splash them with fragranced oils for pot-pourri dishes. [Thank you dear aunt in Ireland for that idea so many years ago…it’s also good to spray them gold or silver later on for table decorations…!]When the boys were little there was of course the school Harvest Festivals to attend [and organise when teaching!] and listening to their favourite school song about Autumn and all the wonderful things that we needed to say thank you for…the kind of song that makes you feel good and you hum it until you’re sick of the sound of it but it stays in your head! Then of course there is the display of pumpkins and spooky decorations for Hallow’een and toffee apples and trick or treating…oh and pomegranates! Love those…as a child we would sit for ages with a half a pomegranate and a pin and pick the seeds out one by one…ah yes my mother knew how to keep us occupied!
As I said earlier Autumn inspires me…it makes me want to get organised...I always feel that my home has an air of expectancy about it in those early dark evenings and this is because it is my time to plan and prepare for our Christmas. Yes, I know it seems too early and perhaps a little crazy…but I think it stems from years of hectic working schedules when I had to plan ahead and of course it helps to spread the cost! So in these early Autumn days I love to gather a few magazines and look for recipes, present ideas, decorations and wrapping suggestions for Christmas. I begin to write lists and refer to a wonderful book I have created over the years with a collection of all things Christmas! Ah yes, I love the Autumn smells, the sounds, the traditions, the foods, the excitement and the expectation of good things to come…
…oh and yes I love Autumn because that’s when the ‘Cutie-pie’ was born…
Now that’s a whole different blog altogether!
Happy Autumn everyone.