Earth is completing its journey around the sun, tilting away from the Northern Hemisphere – the autumn equinox is here.
What does autumn really mean to us as human beings? From a primitive standpoint, we are part of nature, hardwired to feel the changing seasons more profoundly than we think. It’s not just a yearning for cosy blankets and hot chocolate, autumn signals to our gathering instinct it’s time to stock up for the long, hard winter ahead.
Whilst animals are busy gathering nuts and preparing a warm, cosy place to hibernate, we too begin making our own homes a comforting and cosy environment as the dark evenings close in.
Autumn is my favourite of the four seasons, it brings with it a sense of closure, a time for reflection and warm, fuzzy thoughts.
However much I love to take in those first earthy notes of autumn on the morning air, there’s also a sense of melancholy, of loss to be felt. As I stand in my garden and wait for our dogs to do their morning business I look at the changing landscape, a myriad of brown through red, ochre and gold. Summer is quite literally. dying.
During the autumn equinox, days and nights are equal length.
Leaves begin to gather in heaps whipped up by swirling winds, and the hedges are losing their summer lustre. Blackberries are pushing forth in abundance – autumn is their time to shine, albeit short-lived. Farmers are busy gathering their harvest and bailing hay ready to sustain their animals, (and us) whilst the land is dormant.
We adore those first notes of autumnal air, but what we can smell is summers’ decay.
Hunter-gatherers as a race, we can’t help plucking handfuls of natures wonderful harvest from the hedgerows to prepare comforting pies and crumbles – naturally, we crave hearty puddings when the weather turns. Instinctively we feel the need to eat well to provide us with an extra layer of fat to see us through the harsh winter months.
Berries and hawthorns adorn the hedgerows like Christmas lights – autumn in all its glory.
Fallen apples begin to rot and leaves decay having finished their cycle of life. Without photosynthesis they’re choked of their life source, they wither and fall to the ground.As the chilly weeks pass, the leaves mulch down and return to the very ground which gave them life.
Autumn is time to take stock – there’s a long, hard winter ahead.
My childhood was filled with woodland walks and visits to the Arboretum for the changing seasons. I loved charging around with my brother and sister, kicking up leaves and getting thoroughly muddy. The musty scent of the damp woodland holds such happy memories for me. Now a mum myself, when my daughter was a toddler we loved wintry walks, searching for acorns and collecting golden leaves for her scrapbook. I loved to show her the joy of autumn, wrapped up warm with pink cheeks and noses.
Our mortal human life runs parallel to the life of leaves, albeit longer, we follow the same journey.
Before we know it, the earth will tilt once again and spring will return, bringing with it renewed hope and excitement.
”Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile”
– William Cullen Bryant
What do you love about autumn? Which is your favourite season? I’d love this know why.