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Season of shifting gears

Autumn never ceases to grab my attention. You’d think I’d have worked out the pattern of seasons by now, but no. I be the daft-yet-delighted one. Summer bundles along, and I’m just thinking I’ve got the hang of things — warm, long days, sticky backs-of-knees — and then one morning I think it’s slightly cooler, that the sky is just a little paler, and BAM: daylight savings ends, there’s frost on the ground, and the grapevine turns red. I love it to bits.


This is my first autumn in my new house. I’m a wandering fool: I keep stopping halfway through pegging out the washing or making a cuppa to stare, slack-jawed, at the specific hue of yellow leaves against a specific hue of late-autumn-blue sky. Then I try and take a photo of it and decide it only just barely approaches the awesome and philosophical beauty of what I actually saw.

Now imagine this but, like, a million times more it?

The photos I churn out certainly don’t trigger the kind of chest-swelling, breath-quickening, tear-invoking rapture that the sight itself actually produces. Which is probably for the best: this intensity of response is hard to maintain. And it makes it hard to get the washing up done when I have to stop and compose myself every two minutes because of all the beauty

I also fail at fully communicating the beauty of it: I say stuff like “oooh, I saw the most beautiful thing today: there was this stick of mint that had lost nearly all its leaves, except for like the second-last or maybe the last one, and there was a tiny bead of dew sitting on it…” and then I trail off, gesticulating, and my listener kindly changes the subject or pretends to have a paper cut so we can move on.

Every single thing seems to have shed its leaves overnight. As I kid, I would have picked up every pretty leaf and put it in the box I kept found feathers and pebbles in, until they dried out and crumbled and fell through the cracks in the cardboard. This sounds like I’m leading up to something poetic, poignant and…(trying to think of another p-word)…pensive about my childhood, but I’m not. I just liked holding on to things I thought were pretty. The urge is still there, even if I act on it only to take photos.

BYO philosophical insight

I think I let autumn take me by surprise because I love it so much. It smells good, the weather rocks, and I strongly associate it with the start of the uni year. As soon as the world smells like autumn, I’m back in my undergrad pants and giddy with potential and reading lists. As a result, I don’t think of autumn as a turning sleepy, winding up the year kind of time: I think of it as a turning inward, knuckling down to work kind of time. Girding up one’s loins surrounded by autumn leaves and rolled oat biscuits. Oh, dude. My heart just skipped a little oat-loving beat. I should be baking rolled oat biscuits. (I give up: I can’t call them that. “Oatmeal” and “cookies” are both from American English, and therefore I feel a bit weird saying them, like everyone who hears me is mentally correcting me to “porridge” and “biscuits”, but chewy, lush biscuits based on rolled oats are definitely oatmeal cookies and there’s no getting around it.)

Pretties everywhere!

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