Autumn means different things to different people.
Summer is over and the sun has lost its strength, so every warm day seems like borrowed time and the chance to step out into the sunshine must be snatched whenever possible. Even in the twenty-first century, there’s still a feeling of Harvest Home: a desire to gather in and stock up, ready to weather the long winter ahead.
For me, even though it’s many years since I worked in education and my life was governed by academic terms, I still feel that autumn is the start of a new year, a time when holidays are over and it’s time to knuckle down to studies and to business.
I always try and have the house spick and span to see in the New Year, as I think it’s an ideal time for cleaning out the old and making space for the new. Sadly, I have a tendency to dilly and dally over housework, and my New Year cleaning frequently gets put off until the Chinese New Year, by which time it blends seamlessly into an early Spring clean.
Autumn cleaning can’t be put off too long, though, as it really needs to be done when there’s still good weather: doors and windows need to be thrown open to let the house take a last deep breath of fresh air, blankets and winter bedclothes can be got out of storage and hung outside to air, and mopped floors will dry quickly.
I used to love this time when I lived in Spain: most years, the weather changed quite punctually when the children returned to school, so it would be cool enough again to concentrate, and there was a good chance we could finally get back in touch with clients who’d taken a month or two off over the summer, and work would get back on track at last.
September on the doorstep
Carpets on the washing line,
windows and doors flung wide
for one last cleaning binge
before the autumn avalanche
of new school term, work projects
and rain that traipses muddy feet
to dry before an open fire.
Here in Middle England, the weather is not as predictable. And this year more than any, there’s no saying when delayed projects will restart. Even so, I did blitz clean the kitchen last weekend and, since the weather is bright this weekend, the windows have been done, too, which is a sure way to lift spirits and brighten attitudes.
inside and out:
how bright the world looks!
Yesterday, in some of those sunny hours borrowed from summer, I managed a long walk, exploring footpaths I’d never been along. Down one of them, I found the fruit in the photo, which look like apples, but as they were only the size of cherries, I guess they must be crab apples.
I really miss the house and garden in Spain, where we had all sorts of fruit trees – cherries in early summer, golden-yellow plums, even a few peaches and apricots. Then, as autumn approached, there would be grapes, figs, and, of course, apples and pears of all shapes and sizes.
In the late summer there was so much fruit you could just lie in the sunshine and listen to it drop.
The dull thud of windfalls.
When the autumn rain came, it tended to be torrential. Even more fruit would fall and everything would start to disintegrate, so you’d slip and slime your way up the garden path through a putrescence of figs to get to the gate.
Then the sun would come out again and the whole world would be fresh and glittery clean.
smells of cider.
As I said, I miss the house and garden. Fortunately, I have snippets of poetry, old blog posts and photographs to remind me.