Shop windows sporting ‘Back to school’ offers, parents budgeting for pencils and new shoes and children insisting on the latest school bag design, all in the name of educational consumerism, these are the first harbingers of autumn.
Darker mornings, a chill in the air despite the odd hopeful whiplash of summer heat, a diminished desire for ice cream, the swimming pool, wearing flip-flops, barbecues and cold beer. The sun almost seems unwilling to bother and suddenly there are no swallows – these are the more subtle hints of the coming season.
The sky looks different, the trees seem tired, ready to turn their green mantles to a myriad of other colours, and the horse chestnuts drop their spiny fruits only to be grabbed up and coveted by English school boys, eager to play ‘conkers’ against their friends in the misty playground, or pulverised by passing cars on the
Italian streets. By now Autumn has found the door well ajar and is starting to creep in. Tans begin to fade and holiday talk wanes. The streets fill up with cars as the school year starts and people take refuge from the elements, leaving their scooters and bikes in the garage. The carefree lightness of summer is gradually replaced by a more sombre approach as people return to the seriousness of living and Autumn has made its definitive entrance.
Did anyone hear it? Did it make any noise? There were no fanfares or fireworks. No preparatory celebrations or blaring announcements. And yet the grapes are ready for picking, the mushrooms are abundant and there is a musty smell of dampness in the crispy dry leaves we all love to kick and walk through. All of a sudden we need a jacket, an umbrella close at hand, an extra cover on the bed. And when exactly did we need to close all the windows?
This silent season, with its warm and vibrant colours, crosses the threshold in all its glory with such apparent ease that we hardly notice, bringing with it the promise of hot soup, polenta, red wine, pumpkin and evenings sharing roasted chestnuts around the table with the family.
Nobody invites Autumn in because nobody hears it knocking.
But listen!…. Look!…
Ah yes, there it is!
by Diane Lutkin
Autumn years – it is often used to refer to the later years in someone’s life “In his autumn years, Peter was able to enjoy his garden a lot more”
Turn over a new leaf – to reform and begin again “He has learned his lesson and has turned over a new leaf“.
To drive someone nuts – to make someone go crazy “That noise is driving me nuts. Please stop at once!”
To squirrel something away – to hide or store something like a squirrel “Lisa squirreled away a lot of money while she was working and now she can enjoy her retirement”.