Seasonality

In all this fuss about winter coming, I’ve forgotten to appreciate autumn. In fact, I’d almost forgotten autumn altogether, in my rush to stock up on merino baselayers and waterproof gloves (none of which I’ve yet needed – I’m still in fingerless gloves, for goodness’ sake).

The best thing about autumn so far? Being able to watch the sun rise on my way into work.

I can’t complain about the days getting shorter when I have spectacles like this to enjoy.

Unsurprisingly, working outside all year round has given me a much keener sense of the changing seasons, and all their little nuances and milestones. But what still surprises me is – well, just how surprised I am by it all. I spend summer in a constant haze of disbelief that it could actually stay light until 10pm, because I remember all too well how early it got dark in December (and even now, I have to put my lights on for my homeward commute). As June ticked over a few months ago, I actually found the constant light a bit too much. I was going to bed so early that I never really saw proper darkness, and I missed it. So now I’m quite enjoying the gentle rides home through dark, quiet streets, tasting the nip in the air, feeling the cold start to bite my hands, and inhaling the scent of bonfires and leaves and frost.

There’s something about autumn that really tugs at me. Some sort of swirling ancient mystical feeling plunging right back to my childhood. And a feeling that now we’re really getting serious again, after all the frivolity of summer. Perhaps, because summer is the most celebrated season of the calender and the one everyone looks forward to, no one really thinks about autumn until it happens, which means our memories of all the other autumns we’ve known remain resonant, and the season has a freshness, and also a mystery, because we never wear it out by thinking it over.

And autumn was when I started this job, and got to know it, so my second and third autumns have been accompanied by a sense of getting back to how things were in the beginning; the things I know best; the solid, comforting bedrock of my experience.

So why am I still so surprised by it all? I really have no idea.

It seems more and more like magic to me that soon I’ll be riding to work in the dark, watching it get light as I do my first deliveries, putting my lights on at about 4pm, and making the most of the precious five hours of sunshine we might get in the middle. And yet, at the height of summer, if you wanted ride in the dark, you’d have do the Dunwich Dynamo or something – and even then, you only get a few hours of night to enjoy (and this is when I ride fastest). But honestly – the days have been reliably lengthening and shortening ever since I can remember – surely I should be used to it by now?

And surely I should be more intrigued by all those things I really can’t explain – like how my mobile phone works, or my wifi connection, or how people find this (anonymous) blog after searching for my full name on Google.

But I’m not. Those things I take for granted. Autumn, though, strikes me with new amazement every day.

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4 Responses to “Seasonality”

  1. Ray Says:

    Autumn is my favourite season, the colours are fantastic & it’s a great time of year to be out there riding your bike. Pity my knee is playing up & I’m not able to get out there.

  2. Sam Says:

    We get even fewer hours of night up here, but I can promise you that the Dumb Run is always colder than the Dun Run. ALWAYS.

  3. alastair humphreys Says:

    really nice piece. thanks.

  4. ian Says:

    spot on. especially those sensations of the first few rides once the tipping point is reached and it’s more dark than light…

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