Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Season of the mist


I can't really fault Lucy Mangan's thoughts on autumn, or for that matter the other seasons, though I take issue with the headline (which of course may not be hers).

For allotmenteers, autumn is a benign season, in a windy, squelchy sort of way. I love the milky skies and the temperate dampness, and the way you can be down to a T-shirt one minute, and snuggled into fleece the next*. The soil is uniquely receptive to attention, and some of the things you have been carefully nurturing for many months finally deliver their bounty: the sweetcorn, the amaranth**, the beetroot, the best of the courgettes, the bulk of the tomatoes, all come with the autumn.

But there are flip sides. For permanent residents of the studentified neighbourhoods of university towns, it can be a hellish time. A whole new set of people you have to hope won't vomit noisily outside your house at 4 am. A whole new set of awkward and occasionally aggressive late night encounters and next-day follow ups. A whole new set of domestic discussions about the ethics of retaliatory tyre slashing and stink bombs through letterboxes. Though also a whole new chance to hear young people sitting round twig fires in their gardens talking about the proletariat and the Iliad.***

And for any product of a northern hemisphere education system, autumn is a time of change, and for change. We can't help but remember the milestones of Septembers and Octobers past, however romantically or otherwise painful they may have been. I think this is reflected in the workplace: we're halfway through the financial year and three quarters of the way through the calendar year yet still this is a time for new beginnings. I would like to see the figures for 'most popular month to resign'. I reckon September's up there.

I think it's a time for reflection, a time for melancholy, and a time for searching for and seizing the light. As for cheerful, that's for the birds.


* This applies to all outdoor activities, it's just that once Hinksey Pool closes at the end of September, I don't have many.
** One of the season's surprise successes: tastes sort of like a cross between spinach and vine leaves. Amazing in a fish pie.
*** One set of our immediate neighbours are always Oxford Brookes students. The other set are always Oxford University students. You can generally tell which is which at 100 paces. Sad but true.



Blogger Jeremy Dennis said...

ooh, Amaranth is pretty enough to sit in the flower bed, too (although, by my reckoning so are Walking Onions and tomatoes) must try that next year

8:14 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joella channels Ecclesiastes. Well I never!

The rains and grey set in here too overnight. Friendly Dog the Street Pet is damp and dog-smelling for the first time in four months. Radiators need bleeding. Fleece dressing gown finally located under ski equipment.


8:44 am  
Blogger Jo said...

J: amaranth = excellent in many ways. I bought seed from the Real Seed Catalogue, have plenty left if you would like some for next year.

S: all biblical channelling entirely accidental. Though oddly I was at a church wedding last weekend which featured a reading from Ecclesiastes. Maybe it seeped in. Also: you have ski equipment but no radiator bleed key?

10:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I have one. I know it. It's here somewhere, I'm certain....


6:32 am  
Blogger Jeremy Dennis said...

Ooh, would love some! Anything you're after for swapsies? I've got some great raggedy poppies in a burgundy/pink mix, that come up ever so reliably -- or some Green Datura if you fancy something a bit less common?

12:31 am  

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