My little corner of the world does not do summer well. Although the days are long, too many of them are damp, or even downright wet, to plan any outdoor activity with certainty. In those rare moments when the mercury rises above 15°, we flock, en masse, to the nearest patch of green, tear off all our clothes and soke up this annual dose of vitamin D until our sun-starved skin is raw and our eyes are stinging.
Autumn, however, is a different story. This land is good at autumn. Very good. As September slips in to October, and the days shorten, sunrises and sunsets begin to occur at times when people are actually awake to witness their beauty; the spires of the city silhouetted by a backdrop of shifting colour in every hue of yellow, orange, pink and purple, as though the sky itself were on fire. The air is clear and crisp, the sunshine more consistent, the clouds less frequent. The lowering light and lengthening shadows bathe the stones of Stevenson’s living rock in tones of softly spun silver and gold.
The strange creature that is the human memory quickly forgets the disappointments of the summer. Thoughts turn to the joys to come; of dry leaves crushed under foot, the silken smoothness of a de-cased conker pressed to the palm, of fingers and lips stained with the last bounty of berries, the smell of wood smoke lingering in the stillness, the first twinklings of candlelight in the encroaching darkness, the evenstar low on the horizon.
The nostalgia of autumns past helps suppress the realities of the approaching winter. We revel in the last hurrah of heat and light as though it will never end, as though, when they are gone, they may never come again. It is a magic, liminal time, one that is over too soon. One to be savoured.