Set fair at last by a long Indian Summer

LP Columnist Barry Freeman
LP Columnist Barry Freeman
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What a beautiful autumn we have shared these past few weeks; quite the finest, most enjoyable, one can readily recall.

And thank our lucky stars for that. A much-needed tonic after the dismal summer here endured.

The unnaturally icy wind which blew throughout our brightest months managed to render even the clearest sparkling blue days decidedly chilly; that the season should ultimately climax in what was a semi-aquatic August merely iced an already ropey cake.

The wettest August for a whole century. Both June and July below average temperatures and, in the latter case, copping 140 per cent of average rainfall.

So there we were, sitting soggy ducks, primed to enter the dark season deprived of that most vital summertime pleasure; the simple joy of hours, days, spent more or less completely outside wearing not much by way of garb.

Soaking up the heat and light and storing memories of same to keep us warm in the long days of cold and gloom ahead.

By summer’s end, my own stash of same was scanty. Having had the good sense and fortune to quit these shores for a spell in foreign climes – our friends in Europe, btw, saw records tumble in the opposite direction, with the longest hottest heatwaves of the century – I had a handful of sweet crumbs to hold close once the shivering set in, but not many. A precious few.

And then, September.

Glowering skies opened. The cool, westerly Atlantic flow which had shivered our timbers since May fell away. Our umbrellas stayed in, the sun came out, and its warmth reached us, at last, at last.

So it went, on through October, and when the first leaves began to fall it was to lay crisp and bright. A shifting, rustling carpet of red and gold to match the slow dwindling canopy overhead.

All fading now, of course. Rain returned last week to make mulch of our crackling paths, and old Sol has since been conspicuous by her increasing absence. Temperatures are sliding, the daily highs lower, the lows lower still. Radiators will have begun burning quids, on and off at first, soon a routine pyre.

But at least we had that last gasp. At least we can go forward with our bones warmed, our eyes filled with beauty, our souls girded for winter, and whatever that might bring.

Reminding ourselves all the way that it will, eventually, bring spring.