Autumn Serenade

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A while ago, I posted about my time as a school caretaker.

One of the things I loved about the job was that I got to work outdoors. I was relatively young then instead of the arthritic hop-a-long I am now who seizes up at the slightest hint of damp or cold.

The early morning starts gave me the opportunity to see nature at it’s most serene, like on a snowy day when the snow was crisp and untouched except for the boots of the paper-boy (and the odd patch of dog piss). The yellow patches reminded me of Slush Puppies and that’s probably why I’ve never been a fan. *boaks*

The school had an enormous cherry blossom tree in it’s grounds. In bloom it was a sight to behold. The children used to stand under the falling blossom and pretend it was snow. Cute, eh?

The blossom would give way to summer leaves which would provide much needed shade for the children, not to mention menopausal teaching staff who were constantly hot-flushing.

Summer would give way to autumn and this magnificent old tree would put on it’s final show of the year by turning it’s leaves red, yellow, orange and ,occasionally, deep crimson – my favourite shade of red.

All too soon the leaves began to fall and they’d glide gracefully down to the floor. Sometimes I’d watch this performance while I had my tea before the staff started to arrive. It was like meditation, courtesy of nature.

Some of those leaves would be gathered by the children and would end up stapled to the walls inside the school. Some would be crammed into bags and pockets to take home (or be found months later) but mostly they covered the yard like a 1970’s carpet. An awesome sight.

The thing about leaves is that they become slippery when wet so I had to gather them up whenever possible for safety reasons. Break a limb? Not on my watch!

It was back-breaking work. There were no fancy smanchy blowing machines for me. Just an old yard brush and few refuse sacks!

Occasionally Mother Nature would do the job for me and a big gust of wind would blow the leaves under the privet, leaving me free to do other caretakery work, like fishing Stickle Bricks out of toilets.

Sometimes, if the forecast was good, the head teacher would ask me to postpone raking up the leaves so the children could enjoy a leaf-kicking session. Some days if the leaf fall was disappointing, I’d go round raking up as many leaves as I could from elsewhere to make it more fun. I was a nice caretaker, not at all miserable like Argus Filch, or the ones from my school days. I can’t ever imagine them going to such lengths to make children happy. Miserable gits.

It would take several weeks for the tree to shed all of its leaves but eventually it would be completely bare and there it would stand – naked yet still magnificent.

However, it’s work wasn’t quite done as the teachers would dangle old CD’s and other sensory paraphernalia from it’s boughs and it would come alive again, if only until home-time.

I loved that tree apart from the mornings when it was throwing it down with rain and then I’d whinge about having to clean those ‘sodding leaves up’.

These days I can find my autumn in the local woods where there are hundreds of magnificent old trees all competing for the best in show. I often stand there (waiting for the dog to have a crap) watching as millions of leaves dance around as they fall to the floor. I tried to take a picture of it once but couldn’t do it justice. Some things just have to be experienced, don’t they?

Autumn is my favourite season. It’s the final smile of the year before winter sets in with it’s slippery pavements and wintry winds. *groans*

Through the trees comes autumn with her serenade.
Melodies the sweetest music ever played.

~ John Coltrane – Autumn Serenade

Image Via Creative Commons

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Forever Autumn

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I love autumn. I love everything about the season.

Being born in the middle of July, you’d be forgiven for thinking that summer was my favourite season but for as long as I can remember, it’s been autumn. For me, it’s the most interesting time of the year. It’s also cooler which most menopausal ladies (like myself) will appreciate having spent the summer loitering in the chilled section of the supermarket.

This summer has been hot. Too hot for some and not hot enough for those with asbestos for skin.

But we’re Brits and we do love a good whinge about the weather. If whinging about the weather was an Olympic sport, we’d win gold every time.

But summer has taken her final bow. The flies have buzzed off and it’s time for autumn to take to the stage with her flamboyant style.

I could bang on about autumn until, well, winter but I’m on a word count so I’ll keep it brief (ish)

If life can be divided into seasons, I would say that the childhood years are spring – a time of birth and growth. Then with the child producing years comes summer, so the natural menopause must mean autumn. I am 44 and post-menopausal. I feel deciduous, as in, there is more hair on my brush than on my head.

The winter years are the home run. If you’re lucky, you will have remained compos mentis. I wouldn’t mind reaching a grand old age if I can hold onto my marbles but given that this week I tried to give the dog Cheerios instead of Bakers and used gravy granules instead of coffee – I’m not holding by breath. I will be the old dear who flashes her support tights on an hourly basis and thinks that Thatcher is still prime minister.

Menopausal women have a lot in common with autumn with their own hues mirroring the season.

Browns (the hair dye which covers the rapidly greying hair)

Reds (the face during a hot flush),

Yellows (a flogged out liver due to excessive gin consumption)

Orange (overdoing the fake tan – but this applies to summers as well, and maybe springs if their crazy mama’s enter them into a beauty pageant at the age of three).

I’m joking. Sort of.

Like the menopause, autumn is a time of great change.

Mother Nature invites you to pull on your walking boots with the promise of an awe inspiring display of colour.

The wisps of smoke coming from chimneys make me stop and sniff the breeze like demented Meerkat. It makes me think about ‘ye olde’ pubs with a roaring fire and a decent pint but I mostly have to make do with tea out of a flask.

Then there’s the rustling sound as my boots plough through the piles of newly fallen leaves.

Here I must add a cautionary note about kicking leaves…

I was having an autumnal kick about in the leaves the other week. The fun police (aka other half) said to me, “I’d be careful if I were you, you don’t know what’s under those leaves!”. I snorted and carried on kicking with abandon. Within seconds my boot came up and with it a huge mound of dog poo. My autumnal walk was marred by having to scrape my way along the grass for the next few hundred yards – much to OH’s amusement. Oh how he laughed. Git.

Let this be a lesson to you. Think before you kick!!!

Autumn is the most exciting season. Aside from ol’ Ma Nature doing her thing with the trees and stuff, there is Halloween – the most charming of celebrations where one’s sweetie stash is massively depleted by little monsters threatening vengeance if their buckets are not filled with cavity inducing confectionery. I’ve taken to answering the door with no make up on – that trumps any scary costume they can come up with. Muhaha

Then there is Bonfire night, though it should be called Bonfire Nights as it is spread across the entire month. Most children love it and most pet owners hate it because BANG BANG BANG SQUEAL WHOOSH BANG equals doggy bodily fluids all over the lino.

As a child, I associated the smell of smoke with Bonfire night. As an adult, it’s shit.

After Bonfire night, we’re on the annoying countdown to a visit from the fat man and his huge sack. *coughs*

But for now, it’s just lovely to admire the show.

To stand in the woods and watch thousands of leaves float down like snow is a wonderful experience. There is beauty everywhere, so get out there and enjoy it. Unplug the kids (and yourselves) from electronic paraphernalia and go out into the countryside and explore!

Metaphorically – my life is in this beautiful season, or at least that’s how I see it. Autumn is a time of reflection and reaping the fruits of your labours. I delight in the success my grown up sons are making of their lives and as for my little man? Well he’s my Indian summer. Time will tell where his talents lie but all I know is that he brings sunshine to my days. All of them do in their own special ways.

I’d love to see winter but only if I can still appreciate it’s beauty, if not, I’ll settle for autumn, forever.

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”

Yoko Ono

Image by Antonia Foy

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