This time of year is my favourite season, and we are in the middle of my favourite academic term. When I said that to another student they said “it’s the furthest we are from exams” but that isn’t really the reason for me, although it helps. I love the anticipation of a new year; I enjoy starting my new subjects and meeting my new supervisors. The weather isn’t perfect, but it is still light in the early evenings and the air is crisp. I like scuffling through fallen leaves and walking along in my new winter coat, enjoying the warmth compared to the chill of the air. I like the slowly-building excitement as we move towards Halloween, Bonfire Night, Advent and Christmas. November is probably my favourite month ever – even though it is often my busiest, as the writing group I run kicks up a gear for NaNoWriMo and my academic work continues to roll along. Choir gets more demanding with carol services and extra rehearsals, and the days get shorter.
Next week British summertime officially ends. My summer ended the day I landed back in the UK and walked off the plane into my favourite season: autumn. I don’t miss the hot days and the bright sunshine at all. Instead of air conditioning and camping I have fruitful harvest of the choir’s annual apple-picking expedition, ready for an industrious morning tomorrow of quince jam-making and apple-crumble baking. Friends come to visit: this weekend it was KT, and in a few weeks I will be heading off for the weekend myself, to spend some time with my mum and her almost-unbroken wrist. I’ve already got the Christmas vacation almost planned, with train tickets booked back north and a definitive date for my Norwegian friend Jens to arrive for Christmas itself. In a fortnight I will pack up a picnic lunch, find my bike helmet and cycle off with Heidi, another chapel warden, to visit a National Trust property on its last open Saturday of the season. The week after I will dig out my waterproof trousers and help to preserve some of the local fens. The last Saturday of term heralds what might be the most peculiar choir commitment of the year: a wedding followed by a trip to Brighton beach for fish and chips, almost certainly in the pouring rain. And then term will end and it hardly feels as though it has started.
Autumn does have its downsides. I don’t enjoy the dark evenings, or walking through a mist so heavy it might as well be raining. I have to dither every morning over whether or not to wear my coat for the two-minute walk to the faculty building, and I suddenly seem to need even more sleep than usual. But there is so much to look forward to, and so many things which are just on the horizon that I’m constantly feeling anticipatory. It feels as though the world is holding its breath, ready for winter.