Autumn is here. The stealthiest of all the seasons. In she creeps on little cat-feet, trailing her bronzes and turning the leaf-tips to copper as she goes. One moment the skies are jewel blue and absolutely clear. The next they are the colour of unlit lightbulbs, the smoky grey of shoeprints on paper.
We went wandering a couple of weekends ago on one of those last clear days, and ended up in the gardens of an old stately home. We bought ice creams from the little on-site cafe, took off our shoes and sat on the grass beneath the old Tudor mansion house. Couples threw sticks for woolly-looking dogs. Children toddled by the pond, squeezing fistfuls of bread meant for the ducks in their chubby little fists. Magpies rattled like gunfire in the trees. Midges fizzed. It was beautiful. Later, we went for a walk by the lake, and I took photos of the water, the sky, the trees.
In one (the photo I posted at the start of this entry), a single tree blazed orange; the others, all around, were still green. That first sign of Autumn, even as the sky glowed blue through the gaps in the leaves. Just two weeks ago, and now the green is gone, and we crunch through molten colours in the streets.
This morning, we went to the food and craft market near C's house, and drank coffee as we browsed the stalls. Breads studded with nuts and seeds, and peppered cheeses; fat, split sausages spitting on the grills. Homemade ciders and local beers. Steamer trunks with real iron bindings. and stencilled names fading prettily to obscurity on the sides.
There was a lovely chill in the air, and the stallholders were cheery in woolly hats and fingerless gloves, and I suddenly wanted more than anything to press the morning into my memory like a flower in a book, or a moth behind glass, wanted to preserve it to take out and handle in the Summer months, in the Spring, say yes, I remember, this is exactly how Autumn smells; of coldness, and coffee, of woodsmoke, and grilled meat, and clean, good air...