Writer: Edited by Melissa Harrison
Publishing House: Elliott & Thompson
Date of Publication: August 25th 2016
Rating: 5 stars
‘’After all, autumn is the natural world’s gentle memento mori; it’s when the year’s cycle begins to slow as spring’s generative energy and summer’s riotous fruition at last start to fail, prompted by shorter days, falling temperatures and the need shared by so many living things for a period of quietude and senescence.’’
What is it that makes us love autumn so much? Is it the crispy mornings after the thick, suffocating humidity and blinding sunshine of our summers that become hotter and hotter by the year? Is it the dress that nature chooses to wear, painted in shades of brown and yellow and red? The sound of the leaves, the wind that makes the trees whisper to each other? The apples and the pumpkins? The atmosphere of mysticism brought by Bonfire Night and the ruler of festivities, the Halloween season, when we love to get scared? All these you will find in this collection dedicated to the beloved season and edited by Melissa Harrison.
‘’Autumn in New York. Autumn in Rome, Paris, London: the great cities might be made for the seasons, their towers of lights shining for longer as the months roll darker and in the cooling mornings the sweet and smoky smells.’’
Certainly, there are some cities that seem to be made for autumn, but this is a season to be enjoyed by those of us who live in a big metropolis and the fortunate people who reside in a rural area. In this beautiful collection, you will experience autumn in the Highlands, in Shetland, in North Yorkshire, in London, in Dublin and Cork, with brief visits to Berlin that flourishes in late September.
‘’There is a distinct smell in the air now that I haven’t smelt for almost a year. It’s hard to locate exactly- I don’t know if it’s the damp rotting wood, the overripe fruit, or the moss that’s growing more brightly and more densely as it soaks up the rain.’’
Walk among the birches and the oaks. Don’t forget to take a look at the fungi lurking by your feet. Smell the apples. Be careful not to disturb the proud stags, the badgers and the sweet squirrels. When dusk descends, ‘’the time of mauve and moonlight, of shapeshiftings and stirrings, of magic,’’ a moment of enchantment in every season, crows may fly somewhere near, heralding the rising of the Harvest Moon. And if you decide to take a walk in the moorland, owls await.
September, the melancholic month, when we begin to realize that another summer has ended. October, the quintessential autumn month, the most beautiful month of the year. November, the herald of winter, the month that calls for Christmas thoughts. Horatio Clare has written a beautiful ode to autumn through the eyes of an educator. The feeling of autumn in the city, the way the air changes. Written with tenderness and a small dose of melancholy. Caroline Greville writes a beautiful passage on the changing of nature. There is a rather melancholic text on the sadness of September by Nick Acheson, an extract from H Is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Poem In October by the great Dylan Thomas, The Stag by Ted Hughes and November by John Clare. The Wild Swans at Coole, one of my favourite poems by William Butler Yeats. The two texts I loved the most was a passage by Louise Baker containing the most beautiful description of autumn I’ve ever read:
‘’It is thick, sticky mud and the stains on your boots, the glow of a candle within a deep orange pumpkin, and the flurry of birds that come to feed in your garden. Stand bathed in the in the glow of a bonfire and watch fireworks dance across a deep purple sky.’’
And an atmospheric text on All Hallow’s Eve and autumnal ghosts by Sinéad Gleeson:
‘’The wind rushes through hundreds of branches, a hypnotic symphony reassuring and eerie all at once. The dark nights roll in with Halloween and, in the forest’s charcoal depths, it’s hard to ignore the supernatural, Watcher in the Woods feel. The hills and trees are spooky in the evening gloam.’’
This collection, edited by Melissa Harrison, is like autumn itself. Atmospheric, cozy, melancholic, hypnotic, beautiful….
‘’Autumn is an adventure, a season of transformation, and a time to prepare for the long winter ahead. It is a thousand leaves falling to the ground and nourishing the soil beneath; it is heavy rainfalls that catch you off guard and drive you to shelter; it is the refreshing winds that sweep the haze of summer away; it is the calm before the storm.’’