I love the summer. Long, lazy afternoons in the park, eating out in the evenings with a lovely cold glass of rose, weekends spent at the seaside… but I’m also really glad it’s now officially over.
Autumn for me means lovely walks with my dog in the park and in the woods among crisp leaves and a brisk wind, all wrapped up in my long woollen coat and scarf with a sturdy pair of boots, watching my dog chase the dancing leaves. It’s a harvest menu, full of warming soups and delicious seasonal meat and vegetables, a welcome change to a long summer of boring old salads. It’s evenings in watching Strictly and the Great British Bake Off, probably a bit silly, but a lovely thing to do wrapped up in comfy PJ’s with a steaming mug of tea and a biscuit. It’s the Scandinavian ‘Hygge’, which seems to have taken over the UK lifestyle scene currently, but it’s a concept that really just appeals to me, and one that I think we naturally tend to lean towards without really knowing we’re doing it.
I read an article recently about hygge, by a Norwegian-British writer who describes it not as just long cosy evenings in and revelling in home comfort, but as a sense of connectedness and respect for the natural world. It’s this connectedness that I think I experience at this utterly magical time of year, and I think we probably all do without really realising it. I think autumn is the time that the changing season is most breath taking and spectacular; it’s really nature at its best. Traditionally the time of the harvest, it’s a time of great seasonal produce when everything is ripe and ready to be picked and stored ready for the coming winter, of rich, beautiful autumnal colour, of fiery red trees, and hazy golden autumn sunshine, my favourite kind of light. I’m always brought to mind a poem by Emily Dickinson, which starts ‘There’s a certain slant of light-‘ not typically one used to describe autumn (as the next line goes on to talk about winter afternoons!) but I always feel that autumn has its own ‘certain slant of light’ in the afternoons that comes with a particular sort of magic only found at this time of year.
So, I’m making a distinct effort this year to really revel in the wonder of autumn. My weekends will be spent on long hikes in the Surrey Hills to take in the splendour of the scenery. I’m cooking simple, wholesome dinners every evening with fresh seasonal produce, and plenty of lovely apple pies. And I’m being mindful of the passage of time, that winter is approaching, and really enjoying the beauty of the season while it’s still here. Of course, winter will come with its own magic once it arrives, but for now, I’m content with this autumnal hygge.