Saturday 17th September
It is quite amazing really, we all know perfectly well that autumn follows summer, and yet we are so often caught napping, and the early onset of autumn takes us by surprise. Perhaps it is because there is no clear delineation; no first daffodils of spring; no first cake-icing of frost dusting the ground; there is nothing specific to tell you that autumn is here again. Perhaps we are all still clinging desperately on to the idea of it still being summer, thinking about the weekends that passed us by, when we should have been out in the sunshine and for some reason we were closeted indoors and missed the rare sighting of the sun. Even I, a few posts ago, was hoping against hope for a last hooray of summer this September. Well it almost happened, but not quite, and inexorably the seasons are turning, the harvesting is almost over, the fruit is ripening on the trees, if it hasn’t already fallen, and the leaves are beginning to turn through their rainbow of colours once more. Strange, really, that the act of dying has such a poignant beauty about it.
The long school holidays are over, children returning to their studies, the tubes and buses are even more crowded than usual and now we are on that long helter-skelter slope into Christmas again. But I still love autumn; maybe my favourite season after all. I particularly love the early mornings when I often get up and take a constitutional in the park, it is still almost dark, and the mist lies in hazy bands in grassy dips until the sun, pale and watery, struggles through the grey layers of clouds and burns it gently away. In the London parks you can often see squirrels, incredibly tame they are, and totally oblivious to mankind and road traffic, they are perfect adaptors and scamper here and there in the morning sunlight. Many creatures now seem to survive perfectly well in the city, I often see a rather imposing heron flying onto the lily-pads in an ornamental pond, and there are foxes in most suburban and even inner city gardens these days. This gives me enormous hope and never fails to lift my spirits, but I do wonder sometimes how they will fare in the winter, how many will survive. Always enough, it seems, to carry on next year. So we shouldn’t be sad at summer’s passing, we should look forward to this time of closing up shop, of husbanding our resources, of preparing for the winter to come, we should take comfort from these little signs, these warnings of the onset of autumn.