We are all creatures of habit aren't we? I get up in the morning and I go to work. In fact not only do I get up in the morning and go to work but I do it at exactly the same time every day ... and so does everyone else. I can guarantee that as I'm walking out my front door, the chap who lives around the corner will come down the lane with his dog. I see the same people at the same time, and even the same cars on my journey to work. In fact for the most part the only variation of the journey is the weather.
So I can’t quite remember the day when it changed, but it happened last week, and it was in clear contrast to every other day that had preceded it. For weeks the early morning air had greeted me with varying degrees of heat, (mostly warm), various degrees of cloud, (mostly clear), and varying degrees of wind, (mostly calm), but every day the air had a gentle summer caress to it, and then suddenly there it was, on that one day, the tang of Autumn.
It was definitely there, that little sharpness to the day, the little reminder of how cyclical our lives are, a little taster of the promise and riches to come. Not much, only a tiny change to the temperature perhaps, but something indefinable and instantly recognisable. I get a real yearning, almost an impatience for each new season, wanting it to rush in ahead of its time, and bring me the delights it has to offer. Each season has its own uniqueness, its own fingerprint if you like, that makes it what it is. Yes of course we get days which don’t seem to fit the right time of year, but by and large they keep their characteristics, and this is why I love our seasons. They mark the passage of our life, and I can’t imagine living somewhere there is no distinction between the seasons.
We are all very sentient beings and personally my thoughts about the seasons are as evocative as any sense. Say ‘Spring’ to me and it’s all about the sheer delight in discovering shy little crocuses with their timid colours, or watching the exuberance of newborn lambs who frisk about simply because they can. Say ‘Summer’ and it’s all about the wind in my hair, the tang of salt on my skin from the sea, and the gentle caress of the sun warmed air. Autumn sees me dreaming of piles of burnishes leaves, slanting sunlight on woodland walks, fat blackberries and apple cake, delicious domestic industry and colours that zing. In winter I creep out to see the miracle of cobwebs in the hedges, rush home to curl beside the fire with a book, eat buttery crumpets and gaze in awe at the first hoar frosts as the world turns to a shimmery white.
When I think of some of my favourite books, I realise that the ones I love most, whatever their storyline, are the ones where I have felt a real connection to the mood of the book, where the author has tapped into my own store of images and this in turn has triggered my own imagination to do the rest. The author has already set the scene or the ambiance in my mind with just a few simple phrases, and if they then match the action to the season it becomes truly evocative – spring bursting with energy, summer relaxed and soporific, autumn serene and bountiful, winter all about comfort? It’s a very clever mechanism, and for me just as important as great characters and plot, setting the mood is vital, and what better way to do it than in praise of our glorious seasons.
And if you want to know what my favourite season is, then the first line of Letting in Light should give you a clue;‘Ellie never knew it of course, but it was probably the conker that saved her life.’