I have always liked this time of year immensely, even when it did mean going back to school.
Slight sense of panic that we’re suddenly two thirds through the year, and of course the immune system becomes far more vulnerable once the weather turns. But there’s a tremendous sort of freshness that accompanies our descent into winter (or the ascendancy of darkness, if you prefer). I think this is a far better time for new beginnings than in January when everything is very cold, due to get colder and so much of life is buried deep under ground.
Autumn is by far the most aesthetically pleasing time of year, at least in the British Isles; the most beautiful lights, the most interesting weather (frosts, gales, storms and shooting stars) and by far the best colours. The sunset crosses our living room windows from right to left. Similarly, we get by far the best smells; bonfires and that earthy, vaguely fishy smell following a good storm in Whitby. Even a little dampness and decay are by no means unpleasant when inhaled in the open air - and cool fresh air at that.
Now I'm beginning to sound a bit like Charles Dawson or Sally, who write far more eloquently about the changing seasons, spending far more time on the other side of the bricks and glass.
The pagans celebrate Samhain on 1st November of course, which marks the more realistic beginning of the new cycle. I like this concept, although it seems quite late in the day to me. It is a touch counter-intuitive on one level, but the things we normally associate with freshness and newness in nature are generally the realisation of processes that have already been happening for some time.
Anyway, we’re hoping to head back up North tomorrow and once home I’m going to be extra super disciplined, rest plenty, exercise in a more sustainable fashion, lose weight, become a better person, etc., etc.. Something like that, anyway, you get the picture. It’s only nine or ten weeks until we’re back in Suffolk again to celebrate our seventh anniversary, which we are, um, celebrating.
Apart from the joys of Alex, the other notable thing about our flying visit to the New Forest was that on the way back up round the M25, we saw a car parked on the hard-shoulder. Next to the car stood a priest, black cassock bellowing in the wind. And he was stood there, upright, facing the car and reading from a heavy-looking leather-bound volume that I can only assume to be the Bible.
“It’s not that odd,” says [...], “I mean, if we broke down we’d phone the RAC. He’s obviously got a different sort of cover and is simply making the appropriate call.”