September is the start of the year

CakeThu 5th September 2019

The children’s return to school, marks the start of a new year for me. Autumn has long been my favourite season and, now, with the kids still at school age, September sees me settling them both in to their new classes and sees me preparing for a season of work and words.

There is, along with images of black, shiny patent shoes amongst crunchy dried leaves, a sense that everyone is ready to work as we go through autumn, a sense of wishing to make the most of these days as we approach the winter ahead. It feels like a productive time and, I guess, it always has been since we needed, as primates, to store food and fat for the cold months ahead. I enjoy the sense of knuckling down across the autumn, even if it is at a gentler pace than I might have forced on myself a few years ago.

I did National Novel Writing Month for the first time in 2012 and have only missed one year in the seven since. It makes November special month for me, starting as it does just after the chocolate filled fun of halloween (my two are obsessed with IT and horror stuff but not as obsessed as they are with Haribo and candy), and giving me the perfect opportunity to set my internal editor aside and just WRITE. The goal is 1,667 words every single day and, whilst the word count is no longer that much of challenge (though there are days when it certainly can be!), the feeling of having that space to just put words down without worrying too much about the details is very liberating. So, I enjoy November and NaNo very much and highly recommend the experience to anyone who feel like they would like to get writing.

Now that I am (nearly!) divorced and living alone, I also very much love December and Christmas. I love being freed from an extended family who rarely made me feel truly welcome. I love being liberated from the extra cooking and care giving (and shopping!) that the season seems to force upon (mostly) women. I do enjoy some seasonal baking and making wintry food but the freedom from “hosting”, as well as from expectations, is wonderful to me right now.

The winter months are great for all my favourite foods (apple and blackberry pie as well as crumble, roast chicken, toad in the hole plus savoury lentil soups, caramelised root vegetables and mashed potato) and also feel like the best ones for creativity. The cooler weather and the beautiful shifts from sunshine blue skies to rain-lashed tempestuosness foster the senses and allow ideas to bubble afresh. It is so much easier to take a long, beautiful walk in the autumn than in the height of summer, so much easier to stare at a log fire and sip tea whilst pondering the imponderable. 

Creativity and productivity are not for everyone nor are they all that matters. The seasons of autumn and winter have many gifts to offer us all. The fallen leaves are evidence of decay and dying and it’s wonderful to me that we do at least have some sense of celebrating this. As we collect conkers or walk amongst the crisp leaf fall, it is time to do the one thing that most of us find so hard: celebrate change.

A tree does not mourn its leaves and neither should we mourn too much the change and loss we experience  

I think, if we let it, autumn can give us a chance to really see the change that is always happening around us. It can help us learn to embrace the shifting of the sunshine to more darkness and stillness. It can help us to trust, as we all should, that light and growth are on the other side of this season of endings.