Saturday 29th October
So, after all that sunshine we have had a couple of days of cold drizzle, and suddenly the streets are filling with dead leaves, dry and scrunchy at first and then disintegrating to a slippery sludge, and we know that at last Autumn is finally here. Well, it couldn’t last forever, but it certainly was a delightful almost Indian summer, a welcome end to a rather flat summer. And now we must hunker down to dark evenings and cold misty mornings and piles of wet leaves in all the parks as natures begins to close up shop for the winter. Not that I really mind Autumn at all, the parks are less crowded for a start; some days in the summer they are literally littered with picnickers who just love to leave their rubbish about; plastic bags, sweet wrappers and crisp packets, and, worst of all, those disposable barbeque foil trays just discarded wherever they might have cooked their cheap burgers and sausages. At least now the parks can get back to some sort of normality, even if there are already park workers out with those big blowing machines, like reverse Hoovers, strapped to their backs as they attempt to marshal the renegade leaves into piles for packing into large clear bags. And even the squirrels are scampering about with ever more fervour as they too realise that the good times are over, and hadn’t they better just harvest those acorns and cobnuts as quickly as possible.
There are a few dog walkers braving the intermittent showers too, usually the ones with big Labradors; the owners of those chi-chi breeds like Shi-tzus or Pekingese are too scared to let their little dears run around in all those dirty wet leaves and so restrict their ‘walkies’ to the pavements these days. I really like the freedom these lolloping loose-limbed large dogs seem to relish, as they bound around, crazily changing direction as they are distracted by a thrown ball or a glimpse of squirrel tail. I wish I could just run around as I did when I was a little girl, kicking my way through piles of leaves and watching them scatter in the wind, and jumping in puddles and splashing everything and everyone in muddy water. But hold on, where do these memories come from, were there ever autumn leaves in Cyprus, not that I can remember, and by the time we got to Putney I would have been seven and would have had to hold Grandma’s hand if we ever walked through the park. So, what am I remembering; maybe it was with Jenny or Gwendolene when I was a few years older and allowed out to play on my own. More probably I had seen other children, less self-constrained than I running through leaves and puddles and had momentarily imagined I was doing the same, and maybe just because I never did indulge in this behaviour that I am feeling as if I would love to be that other little girl, not the quiet obedient one I was, but the rebellious fun-loving free spirit I have always hankered after.
And why does the arrival of Autumn bring on these reveries so, is it that above all autumn is a time of reckoning; summer and another year have passed, and as we prepare for winter, maybe, like the squirrels, we too are quietly husbanding our resources, instinctively assessing how we are to deal with this Winter. In earlier times it would certainly have meant death for some of the older people in our tribe, and of course both of my parents are getting older and if anything will carry them off it will surely be in these parsimonious wet and cold months which always follow the damp mellowness of Autumn.