In praise of Autumn

Although I have just woke up I can already feel that today is one of those days where I am going to quietly slip straight into a parallel dimension, with every color perfectly matched and my favorite music playing in the background, without even trying to stay in everybody else’s universe. It’s been happening quite often recently.

I am in London, it’s about 9am and the sun, strangely high in the sky for this time in the morning at this time of the year, is blasting rays down right in my face through the big kitchen window, warming up the entire room. In fact, I believe I am now too warm, I need to take off the jumper I am wearing on top of my t-shirt. I look at the calendar on my computer screen which says November.. is it, really? Ask anyone you know to give you an example of the first thought they have about this time of the year, and I am pretty sure you will get an excellent assortment of different shades of grey, wet and dark images. If you did it today though, you will definitely get very different answers but again, today is not your average autumn day.

I have no idea where October has gone, if it was ever here anyway. Over the past few weeks the UK and in particular the south east region have experienced warmer than average temperatures, registering the highest temperature ever recorded for the month of October at around 29 degrees. I know, it’s crazy.. but lucky for me I was here and really enjoyed it. The very colorful combination of the different shades of red, yellow and brown on the trees and the warm summer temperatures have created a very enjoyable and almost surreal atmosphere.

Although I admit that in the past I often struggled to give November a real identity and to find a good spot for myself within it – too late for summer but still too early for winter – over the past few years I have started to appreciate it more. More importantly I started to give it the respect it deserves, together with the season it sits in, often not entirely understood and certainly underestimated – autumn.

As evidenced by the content of this blog, the winter months represent for me not just an extraordinary, very exciting and challenging part of the year but also a key element of the creative process this blog can be considered one of the end results of. However, as I have previously mentioned in other articles, the Winter Mountains and the ski/splitboard touring are not my only source of inspiration. Generally it’s the natural environment and the impact its many aspects have on our daily life that keep me inspired in every season, regardless the color of the leaves on the trees or the number of hours of daylight.

Do you have a favorite season? You can tell I do and probably you can even guess which one it is. I confess though, that there are times during December, January and February, when I desperately miss the day light and by March I really need and look forward to the long and warm summer days. So, all in all, I can probably fall in the category of winter people who can adapt incredibly well, but not very easily, in a not too hot summer, possibly by the sea. I am sure I have plenty of company in that category.

Choosing my favorite season sounds like a simpler task comparatively to choosing a place where I would like to live all year round. Although I am aware our planet is huge and therefore there must be a very large numbers of places that would suit me one somewhere, I often wonder whether a similar place really exists! What certainly doesn’t seem to help is that if my life was made into a film the title would probably be something along the line of “the wanderings of the indecisive”.

I often wonder, whether it’s the search of a special place within my own parallel dimension, rather than the one for a physical location somewhere in the external world responsible for my wanderings. More I ponder about it, and more apparent appears to me that what happens on the outside is purely a reflection of what goes on in the inside.

Therefore, for the time being, I have made the conscious decision to truly accept and make the most of my nomadic lifestyle, packing up and go, moving with the change of the seasons. I figured that the rest will come. I’ve also given up on planning because I have accepted that the world brings to me what it’s meant to. Situations can be complicated sometimes and to make things even more complicated we don’t seem to have the answers to so many questions. So instead of pointlessly worrying about all the unanswered questions and the uncertainty of future, in an attempt to simplify the world around me, in pure Zen style I simply focus on the present moment trying to find my own niche where everything is simple and it all makes sense. The only trouble is, my niche can be a very quiet and solitary place sometimes, a place where being self-sufficient becomes an essential skill, a prerequisite without which life in the niche would not be much fun.

If my destiny is to live in one place all year round, sooner or later I’ll find it, or better, the right place will find me. I know it might sound a little strange but if I stop and think for a second of the most special people I have met and situations I found myself in which led me where I am today, I have the impression I have been found rather than I have found them. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t just sitting there in a corner waiting for something to happen or somebody to come along. I was out there with all my enthusiasm and energy engaging the present moment, wandering, wondering and hoping, trying not too hard to figure out what to do with my life in that particular moment and.. I was found! I hope it makes sense but if it doesn’t, I am sure that if you think about your own story it will occur to you that you have been found too at some stage.

What happened there? I thought we were going to talk about the autumn?! I find that one of the most characteristic and fascinating aspects about autumn, if not the most, is the variety of vivid colors of the leaves on the trees and all around.

If you think about it, during spring and all the way through the summer months, the only main color we identify nature with is green. Don’t get me wrong – I adore seeing green around me, grass, leaves, bushes, everything, the greener the better for me. What I am saying here is that exception made for some occasional flowers, vegetables and fruits, which sadly you don’t have the privilege to see when you walk in a city park, what you are left with is essentially a number of different shades of green.

By the time October arrives though, with its cooler air and shorter days, Mother Nature is ready to move on to a new season and one of the ways she uses to communicate to us her intentions is using trees. She chooses these remarkable larger than life organisms for signaling to us the changes which are about to take place in the natural world. Trees and plants are not just messengers though: they live and breathe almost like humans. Through the process of photosynthesis, they incessantly work 24/7 using sun light, carbon dioxide (removing it from the atmosphere) and water to create oxygen. They clean the air for us. They really are amazing living, breathing creatures and we should show much more respect and admiration for them, not cutting them.

For winter lovers like me, autumn news is good news as it means winter is around the corner. I believe the great majority of the people love spring and summer for obvious reasons but don’t really think much of autumn and winter. I feel sorry for them as I think they are missing out. Autumn is not just a very colorful time of the year; it is also the season to enjoy delicious fruits and veggies. Chestnuts and butternut squash are my all-time season favorites. I can eat liters and liters of squash soup, I make a really good one. As for the fruit, I have so many fond memories of the days in the countryside I used to go with my father picking up chestnuts from the ground and then he would make an amazing jam with them. Although all of my father’s home made jams are excellent, my favorites are blackberries and chestnut.

Of all the places I have been to in autumn and seen the signs of the arriving winter, I have very vivid memories of one in particular: the forest of Grunewald, located south west of Berlin. When I lived in Berlin the area around the lake Schalchtensee was my favorite area to go walking. It’s a huge area home to a wonderful wild forest, mainly composed of conifers and birch. Within the 3,000 hectares of land occupied by the woods, some areas are restricted to visitors in an attempt to protect the local fauna. The forest is home to wild boars, deer, amphibians and several species of birds.

 

My favorite place in London to see the seasons changing is Hampstead Heath. Calling it park would be a serious understatement. It covers over 300 hectares of land. It embraces hills, endless grassy fields, several ponds, recent and ancient woodlands, playgrounds, swimming ponds. It really is a piece of pretty and diverse country side rather than just a city park. Over the years I have found myself wandering for hours on the Heath with friends or often on my own, in the rain wearing waterproof clothes or under a blasting sunshine in 30 degrees wearing only shorts and t-shirt, having a sad expression or a big smile on my face. Regardless the weather outside or the mood inside, I always enjoy being on Hampstead Heath.

This is the Heath on a cloudless warm autumn day.


 

I hope you are all having a great autumn wherever you are, enjoying the seasonal food and the amazing colors of this fascinating season!

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One Response to In praise of Autumn

  1. peta says:

    Hi Matteo! Thought I´d enter the blogosphere, how did I get out here? Through a gate made or butternut squash and a canopy of honey hewed trees. you´ve got some great and interesting thoughts. It wasn´t until you put it like that, that I realised I´ve been feeling what you´ve been thinking all along. What an energising, amazing October. I love that photo of the trees, like a Gothic cathedral. Peta

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