Autumn. I bang on about it from mid-August to anyone who will listen, as it really is my favourite season. Oh check me, the most basic of bitches. I love a good seasonal hot beverage (yes PSL, I am talking about you again), will unashamedly kick my way through piles of crunchy leaves, and much prefer a good hat, scarf and glove set to a summer dress and sandals. But there’s more to it then this. I’ve always felt like autumn is a season of new beginnings, as opposed to spring, and the bite of frost in the air on a morning makes me feel excited and happy.
I think it all stems from the evocative nature of a new school year. I can still vividly recall the smell of new school cardigans, crisply embroidered with a bright badge. Your skirt’s pleats were perfect, your shirts starched white, and you had braved the mayhem of Clarks with your mum to come out with new school shoes. Did anyone else get wildly excited when in Year Six they were finally allowed the ‘trendy’ ones with a chunky sole and heel? And then there is the excitement of getting your new schoolbooks, and the pressure of writing your name on the front – wanting it to look perfectly neat. I love the feel of writing on a new notebook, the crisp white pages, the clean cover. By the end of the year my books would be doodled on front and back, and I would have inevitably got bored of regulation black or blue ink so started writing in green or purple. The shoes would be scuffed, the cardigan would have been chewed round the cuffs, and the long summer days of rounders were the wind down to the year.
Then you go to high school, and that is a whole new beginning. From a class of ten to a hundred students in your year. Each September that unfolds is another chance anew. The smell of freshly waxed corridors, a new locker, a new timetable to get used to, and hell yeahhhhhh new boys in class to sit next to.
I carried on studying, so another September brought with it sixth form and a whole other newness. And then in turn, college – to do my Art Foundation year, before going on to uni. I can still remember the first days of all of these, the smells, the people I met, and the overwhelming sense of something changing with the season.
Traditionally its spring that is seen as the season of renewal and rebirth, with the buds bursting out after the dead of winter. Lambs and chicks frolicking in the fields are symbols of new life. Lots of people herald this as the renewing of the year, and welcome the sight of greenery creeping across the landscape. I love spring, love the smell of new rain, love the unfurling of fresh green buds, but for me Autumn is the hurrah of the year. The explosion of colours, the leaves flaming up in one last beautiful salute before they fall to the floor. The Harvest Festival, boughs heavy with fruit, rosehips glaring red, conkers and acorns gleaming promises of new life in the following year.
Summer nights out are undoubtedly the best. When you are too young to drink in the local pubs, the fields around them become your playground. The smell of spilt cider, straw and cigarettes becoming the background to your nights. The longer days mean crazier nights, and its far too tempting to skinny dip when your dress is clinging to your back with sweat. After work drinks in a sunny beer garden turn into late night revelry, everyone tempted outdoors by the sun. However as autumn creeps in there’s a whiff of something a little more wild in the air. The crisp tang of frost, the smoky smell of bonfires which seems to linger from the first of October onwards, and the allure of something forbidden (or just raunchy fancy dress) at Halloween.
Its also my birthday at the start of October, so for me quite literally it is the start of a new year. I love having an autumn birthday, new coats, hats, gloves, and boots for stomping in. My favourite hymn at school (Autumn Days when the grass is jewelled and the silk inside a chestnut shell…. absolute banger). Chocolate cake, too much wine, and donuts for days to celebrate turning another year older. My parents bought me a CD one birthday with old punk songs that became the backdrop to my teen years, hell the soundtrack to my whole life is old punk music.
And then I met D, whose birthday is the day before mine. We’ve celebrated the season with fancy dress, with whisky in bed, with wrapping up warm and heading out for long walks together. Wildness doubled, our collection of scarves taking up too much space in the cupboard, and an IKEA Kallax turned bar groaning with bourbon dominated the living room.
Then last year. I was as round and fat and stretched as a conker, feeling enthralled by the new life twisting and wiggling inside me. Subconsciously echoing the season, I wore rust brown, orange red. I went out with my sister for pumpkin spiced lattes, feeling loved and warm. Then, in a rush, in a day like no other R was born – and new life came screaming into this world on a beautiful October afternoon two days after my own birthday.
We took him out in his pram, his first sights of the world were of a world dressed in autumnal joy. We posed for pictures in front of flaming leaves, protected his downy head with woollen knits, and snuggled on an evening in a nest of blankets, resting whilst the frost crept up outside.
Almost twelve months has spun past, and we find ourselves in autumn again – the past year has been a dizzying blur. Despite the difficult days and the never ending nights its gone fast, too fast. And now I find myself looking back at this time last year, the last autumn days before our life changed forever, and I know that the leaves changing colour will now mean more to me than ever before.