Autumn in the air - Diary of a Sussex newbie

Autumn colours in Sussex
Autumn colours in Sussex

“The nights are drawing in,” utters Devoted Doctor, as indeed he has done most evenings now since mid-September.

I used to find this disheartening – the thought of the long and balmy days of late summer morphing into dark and damp autumnal dawns.

It was also partly a throwback to boarding school days; with that pit in the stomach ache on a Sunday late afternoon as we prepared to drive back to school.

Some sort of association between the close of summer and the end of happy times at home.

But things are slightly different now.

This will be our second winter here and I can honestly say that I find myself quietly excited about the impending shift into all that is autumnal.

The leaves on the trees are hinting at a spectacular show; already there are glimpses of burnt orange and firecracker red.

Yet the roses keep blooming!

The warm summer (and as I write it is 20 degrees on a mid October day) has paved the way for an incredible fall.

And the fog... we’ve glided along through the curls of thick mist, first thing on the way to school.

Sometimes alone on the road, eery and silent, as if suspended in some ethereal state that will eventually deliver us into a land of crunchy leaves and pumpkins.

It’s a time of waiting. Waiting for the first frost, and for the first fire to be lit. Waiting for conkers to fall and an excuse to wrap up in gloves and scarves.

The home will shift its seasonal gear this weekend when the Aga is coaxed and cajoled back into life, like a big old bear that’s been asleep through the Summer.

No more cold toes on the kitchen floor. Back to pies and slow roasting, baked puddings and root vegetables, and stews.

The anticipation of hunkering down in the evenings by the fire. The glorious crackling of the logs and the scent of damp forest floors. Not feeling guilty about being outside ‘doing something useful’, but revelling in the pure unadulterated joy of just being cosy.

Somehow this seems the best place to be, while we wait for October to reveal.

When we lived in London the only real significance of autumn was the odd bonfire party and trick or treating.

Here, every shift nearer winter has import and affects us in some way; getting the logs in, sweeping the chimneys, making sure there is bird feed out as the mornings get colder...

You can’t impose yourselves upon the seasons here. They’re very much in command and our lives follow that cycle across the year. It’s oddly ceremonial. So I for one am not at all unhappy that the nights are drawing in...