Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Season of mists and lots of stuff like that

I have a clear memory of walking through George Square towards Edinburgh University library one autumn day when I was a student. It's one of those snapshots of the mind - separate and distinct like a dropped flower. I don't know where I'd been or what happened next. But I do remember the sun shining brightly, low in the sky; and I remember the chilly air; and the trees in the garden in the square, their leaves turning various shades of flame. And I thought to myself: autumn is my favourite season. I felt really enlivened by the chill, the glancing sunlight and the bright colours.

I don't feel like that now, 40 years on. Autumn has its charms but Spring - that's the season that lifts the heart. Thrusting shoots, fresh leaves, baby birds, lengthening days, renewed hope. Autumn - well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that it brings thoughts of death but it does remind me how fast time is passing. Whoosh.

I probably feel this particularly because my working year runs from August to June. So autumn also brings grindingly hard work and a weary haul till the next long holiday.
At this time of year we Scots tend to say with pained surprise, "The nights are drawing in" - as if we'd never noticed this happening in previous years. At the moment it's still light at breakfast time but darkish by 7 at night. By December the sun doesn't rise properly much before 9 and then starts setting about 3.30 pm. Those of us who work and don't stop for lunch live in the winter like moles, and emerge blinking into the daylight at weekends.
Will I feel differently when I retire? Will I once more enjoy the sharp air in my lungs on a sunny day; the cosiness of sitting with a book in a warm room as the workers fight the rain and the traffic to get home; the sooch of the wind against the windows behind the closed curtains and the realisation that I don't have to go out in it? Will autumn seem exciting again?
367 working days to go. Approximately. Or that's the plan. Meanwhile, back to the pile of marking on the kitchen table.


  1. A countdown has begun. You know they cannot be stopped or reset. A countdown to sunlight hours.

  2. I remember walking home from school and seeing the moon rising as the year drew to a close! The days are getting shorter here too, but the best weather for us is around the corner! Cool nights, gentle breezes, no snow or sleet or howling winds or hail. It's worth enduring Florida summers to have such lovely winters!
    When those 367 days are over we'll have to teach you how to quilt!

  3. In Australia it gets dark early all year but it is light early in the mornings I used to like the long light nights in the summer I miss them.
    Hugs Mary.

  4. Oh I hate this time of year. September I love, there are still warm days, days to sit in the garden, days to still pretend it's summer but October... yuk.

    I hate being so horribly affected by the seasons - I guess I just wish we had proper summers and less grey days.

    One day I will retire to Queensland!

  5. I know several people who hate autumn because, just as you say, it reminds them of death. I don't really have a favorite season -- I think I just love the change of seasons and the transition into new activities. It's good you have a number to focus on -- keep you eye on the prize!

  6. I love autumn and I don't even mind that we live in pretty much perpetual darkness from October to March. In the days when I ran, I used to like running on dark mornings. Mainly because no-one could see me.

  7. I always quite like autumn as long as it's not too rainy. I think it goes back to the fat days when I could finally cover up and not have the chafing/swaet problems of summer!! Isn't that terrible!!

    Still, I like it now - the slight chill, the mists, the crunchy leaves, new clothes, different food, berries on trees and a really good few months of socialising up to Christmas! I don't know what it is but I always see more people and do more fun stuff between October and December than in the rest of the year put together!

    Lesley x

  8. Mmmm. Yes.

    I think it's gotten easier since not going to a job regularly. The days still feel awfully short in the winter, but one doesn't feel they've been quite as eaten away.

  9. Perhaps it is the Southern Hemiphere, but I still love Autumn the best. Not as harsh as in the Northern, I suppose.
    "O Season of mellow fruitfulness"
    I do miss the long evenings of the South Island of New Zealand.

  10. Yes yes, you will, it will! It is a mixed time isn't it? Funny how only the transitional seasons, spring and autumn, bring with them those 'snapshots of the mind'.

    'The nights are drawing in' always tempts me to rejoinder 'As Thomas A'Becket said to the actress...' but Tom find this a bit upsetting!

  11. I love the spring too, and find the fall a sad time because we lose all the beautiful, leaves on the trees, etc.
    And then we have months of frigid weather to look forward to. Not my cup of tea.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts on work and retirement. I'd so much rather be able to stay home and potter in the garden and house, but once I'm there I love being with the children, and I love the job for the most part. I imagine I'll miss it when I don't do it anymore.
    You are certainly working some long hours. Living like moles would be unpleasant to say the least. Our nights are "drawing in" too and all the plants have now been zapped by heavy frosts. Bah humbug.
    I'm glad you still have your plants. I hope the Busy Lizzy is still surviving when you get back from your vacation.