The Familiar Comfort of Autumn
by Charlotte Duff
‘Rain on roof outside window, gray light, deep covers and warm blankets. Rain and nip of autumn in air; nostalgia, itch to work better and bigger. That crisp edge of autumn.’
–The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
I have a secret: autumn is my favourite season.
I like winter for its promise of Christmas and family and celebration. I find joy in spring for its lighter evenings and trees heavy with cherry blossom. I celebrate summer for its balmy nights and sun-drenched barbecues.
Autumn, however, is different.
The arrival of September has always filled me with back-to-school butterflies and makes me think of sharpened pencils and fresh starts. Now that we are in October and the clocks have gone back, I think we can comfortably say that the autumn is settling in.
I know that my love of the season in between summer and winter is something strange. I also know that lots of people struggle with the darker evenings and the nip in the air. Autumn is a kind of mourning for those that worship the summer months.
It is true that it has become somewhat fetishised – pumpkin-spiced lattes, pretty girls wrapped in enormous scarves, Instagram-filtered golden afternoons, endless hot chocolates.
There is also the Danish hygge phenomenon – walk into any bookshop and the tables will no doubt be laden with pocket-sized books on how to incorporate it into your life. (Hygge is defined as a quality of cosiness that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking and spending time at home with loved ones. That’s it. It isn’t about expensive pyjamas or luxury candles or cashmere blankets.)
“This is a time to decompress, to relax, to think.”
Like any season, autumn is never exactly as we wish it could be. There are grey, drizzly in-between days. There is less light and more chill. Christmas seems months away. What can there possibly be to love about October?
This is a time to decompress, to relax, to think. Weekends aren’t filled with social media invitations to overpriced rooftop cocktails, or barbecues where you have to arrive armed with your own food and drink or else you’ll be bored and hungry. There’s less pressure; everywhere is no longer awash with last-minute holiday deals, sandy beaches and bikinis. If you want to spend a rainy afternoon in the pub with a bottle of red and a plate heaving with roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings – it’s there for the taking. There’s no chance of world cups or the Wimbledon finals taking up your weekend, leaving you squashed in a corner as your wine goes warm.
This time is perfect to do the things that you love best; whether it’s catching up on reading, watching the latest sultry TV drama everyone is talking about, running through the park on a bright chilly morning, cooking yourself something comforting as the nights draw in. It’s also a time to try something new: learning a language, taking up a hobby you’ve always thought about doing, visiting somewhere that’s always been in the back of your mind.
Autumn isn’t just an in-between season – a cry for the summer just gone or a heady anticipation for Christmas and the New Year to come. It’s a time to reconnect with yourself – what you want, what you need, what you hope to achieve in the coming months.
As the leaves turn those magnificent shades of burnt orange, deep purple and soft yellow, as the air becomes softer and cooler, as the night falls earlier – the world is reminding you: stop, breathe, listen.
Come back to yourself.
Charlotte Duff | @charlottevduff
Charlotte Duff is 25, a writer and an MA student at Goldsmiths, London.