After a quite glorious autumn, we had our first proper snow here in Munich this last weekend and the nights have even been downright blustery. Seems ungrateful to complain about it, though, considering it’s been so beautiful thus far. And a stormy day can be delightful in its own way. Insert cliche about there being no bad weather just poorly planned clothing.
Despite all of that – even after such an autumn and then several days of being completely overcast – there’s this unreasonable relief when the sun breaks out of the clouds and paints the sky so beautifully as in the photo above. The days are so short at this time of year that if you’re stuck inside in the early afternoon, you just might miss it.
Didn’t miss this one, however. Far from it. This one was definitely savoured.
The sky seems to have moved in closer, and the day slams shut so much earlier. Knowing that sundown is creeping towards us makes me want to pack as much into those depleting moments of sunlight.
The leaves that are left are somehow racing to the ground now – they pile up and make their annual bed. I kick them relentlessly and swear to myself that I’ve never enjoyed autumn as much as I have this time around. If I allowed myself, I’d just hold my photo-taking devices out in front of me the entire time I was out there. As if it were my first digital camera. Or even more preposterous: as if I’d never before seen the these changes of seasons.
On these days, I’m like one of my dogs when it comes to going outside. I imagine the keys rattle and remember I promised myself a walk. I accompany me down the stairs and out into the crisp air and say repeatedly, ‘No need to take a photo of every single thing. You’ve captured that exact shot again and again and again.‘
Most of the time I can keep walking and stay focused on the moment. Most of the time.
In German this season is called Herbst, which is a fine word. It rhymes with ‘flair‘ or ‘stare‘, which seems entirely fitting from my vantage point. So often I hear people whinging about the passing of warmer weather. Remembering how rainy fall days can be, they simultaneously dread the long cold days of winter.
While I can intellectually comprehend what they’re talking about, I feel increasingly foreign in their company. I see the words form on their lips, but my thoughts are meandering outside into the already decaying foliage. My tail is wagging as I bound through the undergrowth.
“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
[Letter to Miss Eliot, Oct. 1, 1841]
This text was shared with me by one of my favourite people, who I only know via social media. She knows I adore autumn, and sent this excerpt of a letter along to me. Thanks Shirley!
I used to go into bookstores demanding to know why George Eliot wasn’t shelved in the Women’s Writers section – luckily, I think having such a section in a bookstore was a trend that came & went years ago. Now her & other women’s literature is thankfully shelved with everyone else’s.
It’s a bit odd that the above-mentioned letter is known to have been written to Eliot, but the author of the letter was curiously left out. It’s a fantastic text, though. That someone thought of me when she read that means I must be doing something right.
Deep into the fantastic autumn we were promised, and now that the Oktoberfest is finally behind us we can get onto the real heart of the season.
For mid October we’re having a genuine heatwave in Munich. It’s too late to call it Indian Summer, I believe. It’s warm and gorgeous in the daytime and not much cooler at night: it’s an Autumn Wonderland.
There has been leaf kicking, as well as plenty of conversations about how this is the best time of year. I wouldn’t bother getting into a discussion about it if you disagree. If you prefer summertime, you’re simply on the other team.
Winter? Well, that way of thinking has its place. I’m always up for a long dog walk in the snow, and huddling up in front of a fire is an exquisite pastime. Everything’s in a sort of hibernation, which appeals to my desire to ruminate and reconsider all of the things.
What about springtime you ask. Hmmm, you could probably make a case for that most tempestuous of seasons. I’d even entertain your arguments to be clear, whereas I’d ignore whatever the summer and winter folk had to say.
Nevertheless, I still find my mind wandering back to the fall. When you know everything’s dying, but it’s so beautiful while it’s doing it. The feeling that this moment in time is so precious and so fleeting – it reminds me to savour the now.
In the back of my mind I know the long, dark nights are just round the corner. Impatient and grumpy travellers on public transport we’ve got to look forward to and the once white snow getting increasingly dirtier and mushier. We’re not there yet, but it’s definitely coming. Encroaching upon our cheery last gasp of warm wind.
Don’t get me wrong. Aside from writing about it here, I’m not thinking much about the cold. Too busy revelling in the red and then yellow and then golden leaves. Even scrawling it here is keeping me from getting back outside.
It’s seasonal, I’m sure. The air gets cooler; those around me start whinging about it. Those of us walking dogs get our parks back and needn’t share them with fair-weather nature lovers.
People’s social media feeds are filled with photos and posts about leaves and Pumpkin Spice hot beverages and the like. Some who’ve had enough of their revealing summer clothing relish breaking out their sweater collection. I’ve lived places where one didn’t need a sweater collection. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Another change of season – who cares, right? We’ve got other things on our minds. You dig autumn. We get it. Anyway, what’s there left to say?
I’m getting to that.
For some reason, I hear Yo La Tengo singing,
‘…we could slip away wouldn’t that be better? me with nothing to say and you in your autumn sweater…’
I’m one of those people who finds himself oddly restless while easing into fall. There’s that window between summer’s burning and winter’s solitude, and I want to relish it. Not necessarily fleeting, and it has been known to come in waves, autumn flirts with us as late summer still makes momentary appearances.
A cold, cloudless day has people huddling in the few beams of sunlight. We know it’s a diminishing resource, so we cut the fingers out of our gloves, pull on that jacket that still smells of the mustiest part of our closet, and soak up the rays.
It’s going to be a beautiful autumn. I can already tell.