It’s autumn in Europe. The long summer days are giving way to short, cosy, cool ones.
There’s a serious, studious atmosphere in the air. The academic year has started and the libraries are full. The galleries are unveiling new exhibits. Plays premiere, books launch and Frieze (modern art’s salute to the start of autumn) is about to begin.
Autumn is summer’s ambitious cousin. Stationery shops are doing a roaring trade in new pencil cases and fountain pens. It’s often seen as a season of melancholy but I disagree. It’s the de facto New Year, a time of change. And I relish it.
I spent the weekend unearthing tweed coats and woollen dresses from storage and have already started to amass Merino wool knits for when the frost starts to bite.
I have a pile of kindling next to my open fire ready to burn and am about to put in a call to the lovely folks at Logs for London, to deliver a pile of Bioregional fuel sourced from an urban forestry project.
It all sounds rather like a ritual and it is. In our large metropolis it’s all too easy to become disassociated from the seasons. Our mange tout is airlifted from Kenya, our lamb from New Zealand, our strawberries from Spain – I feel it’s important to reconnect. Back during the harvest festivals at school, wreaths of corn and baskets of food were given to the elderly – there’s a value in acknowledging time’s process.
So I propose a revival of the harvest tradition for the modern age. Let’s light candles, stoke fires and relish the prospect of cold winters, rather than complain of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
In Britain we should celebrate conker championships, pumpkin parades and pagan harvest ceremonies. In an era of globalisation these might just remind us what really matters.