It’s Autumn Equinox today which for many, marks the start of Autumn as our days and nights are, for a short while, in balance before the favour shifts towards the shorter days and longer nights as we approach the Winter Solstice. It seems like a good opportunity to think about the changing seasons and the passing of the year, which is particularly easy to see in our beautiful woods around Devon.
For a lot of us, this time of year is bittersweet as the nights draw in and we say goodbye (for a while) to the long light days. Whilst nature has its tricks to make this time of the year a little easier, we can’t deny that it is colder, wetter, and that spending time outdoors requires a little more resilience and planning than it did a few months ago. Many of us struggle to some degree with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and combined with the start of term, it can be a challenging time of year as we adjust to the change in seasons.
So we thought we’d focus on gratitude and positivity and look at three things that we love about this time of year in the hope that it helps ourselves and those of you reading, to embrace the annual trip around the sun and all the changes that it brings.
Bit of a no brainer this one, but nature compensates for less sun and warmth by putting on a beautiful art show each autumn, unique and often simply breath taking. It’s not just the changing colours of the leaves on an individual level, it’s the changing landscapes and vistas as green hillsides, valleys, and even small patches in cities and towns are transformed into a patchwork quilt of oranges, reds, browns, and yellows. And then of course, when said leaves fall – the possibilities are endless! We all remember kicking through leaves as children, collecting particularly special specimens and at our Forest School sessions we love to make leaf art and rubbings with what we can find. Looking for conkers, sweet chestnuts and acorns in amongst the fallen leaves is also a childhood hobby as old as time and we love seeing new generations rooting through the leaves to see what treasures lie underneath.
The light at this time of year is simply beautiful. The sunrises and sunsets have some special ethereal quality to them, particularly when combined with dew covered cobwebs and plants. Even throughout the day, the light seems softer somehow, more dappled and gentle. It seems like a small thing to notice but sometimes the small things are what brings us moments of joy throughout our day and change our mood as we go about our daily lives. The little things can serve to ground us, to bring us back to the present, to quieten the voice telling us about the endless to-do list, the things we need to do, the things we’ve forgotten to do. To be able to sit in the present, if only for just a moment, is a real gift to ourselves. It’s something we have to practice, to work on, but the benefits to our mind, body, and soul from being able to be mindful and exist in the here and now (if only occasionally) are massive.
There’s no use trying to fight the change in seasons so instead, why not think about the way our lifestyles change for the better in the autumn? Perhaps you love that it’s going to be hoody season again soon, maybe you are looking forward to embracing seasonal foods and starting to cook up soups, stews, and curries with all the delicious root veg that will be in season. Maybe you take pleasure in the dark nights and being inside in a gently lit house, with the winds howling outside. Perhaps you are super excited for the Autumn holidays such as Halloween, Bonfire Night, and then Christmas. Maybe you really enjoy the rituals and traditions that this time of year bring. Whatever it is, try and identify what it is that you love about this time of year and focus on that, rather than giving too much time to grieving the long sunny days of the summer.
How are you feeling as the seasons start to change in earnest? Let us know in the comments what you think of the Autumn and how you choose to embrace it if you do. We’d love to hear from you!
Author: Hannah Durdin, Content Officer & Forest School Leader
Date: Saturday September 23rd 2023