You don’t need me to remind you the UK is a mess this autumn.
We’re stacking up crisis upon crisis, like the worst ever showstopper challenge on The Great British Bake Off.
Some days it’s impossible to see the joins of where one terrible thing ends and the other begins.
Food and energy prices are going up, the Christmas supply chain is in flux and Coronavirus refuses to take the hint and just go now.
Oh, and the planet is dying.
Every day, the news brings more tales of despair, horror and destruction.
Everything feels a bit bleak. But, there is comfort to be found if we’re willing to look for it.
Mercifully, we’re now knee-deep in the best of all the seasons.
Autumn is everything that spring, summer and winter aspire to be, but never quite achieve.
So much for springtime
For starters, it is far more beautiful than spring.
New buds and green shoots are nice and all, but they are as nothing when compared to the burnt orange magnificence of autumn.
If you are so inclined, that backdrop lends itself well to playing Eva Cassidy’s version of Autumn Leaves while crunching through a park and pretending you’re in a music video.
Not that I’ve ever done it, of course.
But if I had, I would have definitely stroked the thick trunk of a nearby tree before twirling around it, for the aesthetic value.
You know how some men say that they prefer women with a “natural’’ look? But what they actually mean is they like nude lipstick, warm neutral foundation and a creamy rose blush?
It’s a season that puts a huge amount of effort into its beauty but manages to pull off the “I just woke up like this’’ trick.
You’re nothing special either, summer
Autumn eclipses summer in every way too.
Summer has long been incorrectly branded as the sexy season.
So sure it is in its own desirability that we’re instructed to shrink ourselves before we’re allowed to enjoy it.
That doesn’t seem a fair trade-off to me.
If it’s warm enough to take off my layers of insulation but the beach demands a certain size of body before I do, then that’s proof that summer has been taking us all for fools.
Denial is not sexy. Weight Watchers ready meals are not sexy and intense cardio sessions are definitely, definitely not sexy.
But do you know what is? Autumn.
It's such a lovely dark day. Hugely comforting for those of us who hung out at goth corner in high school.
— Kirsty Strickland (@KirstyStricklan) October 18, 2021
It doesn’t put conditions on its sexiness. We can enjoy it as we are, our soft bellies hugged close by even softer woollen jumpers.
It’s hot drinks in a steamy coffee shop.
It’s Halloween costumes that are more sultry than spooky.
And for those of you in the dating game, it’s the early darkness of the night, nervous kisses in the rain and the whizz and pop of fireworks.
The best part of winter is the autumn part
When it comes to winter, that’s where things get tricky.
I didn’t find out until recently that winter doesn’t actually begin until late December.
So see all that twinkling, magical, Christmassy joy that earns winter the title of the cosiest season?
That actually belongs to autumn. Winter just turns up at the end and claims credit.
By the time winter is really in its stride, we’re into January.
And everybody knows that January is not a time of warmth and cosiness.It’s a grey, hungover, skint mess of a month.
Autumn is Christmas cosiness before the stress and excess spending swoops in and ruins it all.
Unless you are one of those strange, “any time before Christmas Eve is too early’’ people, then autumn is when you will pour your favourite tipple, stick on the Christmas tunes and set to work decorating the tree.
Autumn is when you get the free entertainment of watching your neighbours break every health and safety regulation in the book in a quest to have the best outdoor lights in the street.
It’s when you coorie in with your loved ones and watch the same films you’ve seen a hundred times.
It’s scented candles, cheese toasties and elasticated waistbands.
If you could bottle cosiness, this wonderful season would be swirling inside, all golden and spicy and warm.
Savour the comforts of autumn
During uncertain times, I always try to find comfort in the ordinary.
Not in a crunchy new-age, THINK YOURSELF HAPPY! kind of way.
Everybody knows you can’t simply “Live Laugh Love’’ your problems away.
But any small pleasures, especially those that are given to us for free, are worth savouring.
For me, autumn has those in abundance.
On those days where nothing seems to be going right and the news headlines scream at us that things are only going to get worse, there’s no harm in taking a second to appreciate the little things.
It’s not a magic fix, but it can work as a soothing balm for our worried souls.