Thursday, 13 September 2012

Enjoy autumn but remember your gloves

This morning I put gloves on.  I probably looked absurd to my fellow Tynesiders, many of whom will be sporting short sleeves and bare legs throughout the winter, but I’m a soft southerner with poor circulation.  Autumn is here and I have already noticed yellowing of the tree canopy, astonishingly bright red rose hips in the hedgerows and darkness creeping in earlier each evening.  It’s not my favourite time of year, that’s spring, even with its constant disappointments.   But I do enjoy the beauty and fruitfulness of the autumn months.  The vegetable box that arrives every Tuesday is bursting with a vast array of UK-grown produce: spinach, chard, sweetcorn, beans, tomatoes, courgettes, while the onions and carrots are straight out of the ground, complete with their greenery.  Of course you can buy most of these all year round in the supermarket, flown in from Peru or Chile or other faraway country.  In the depths of winter, when swede is the ubiquitous box-filler, I don’t deny that I too will be supplementing it with some more exotic goodies.  But I think there is something fundamental to the human spirit in our observation, in every sense, of the changing seasons.  Our ancestors knew that when they built stone circles such as Stonehenge, 5000 years ago.  But so much of modern life prevents us from experiencing the reassurance of the changing year.  Personally, I very much welcome central heating, but I do sometimes think back to a time when I spent many months each year working outside, as a digger on archaeological sites.    I was younger and fitter and, possibly, less susceptible to the cold.  I was also more aware of weather conditions, both bad and good.  Our motto was that “it often rains but it seldom rains all day”.  Climate change may be casting doubt on this, but it’s certainly true that the more time you spend outside the more you appreciate good weather when it arrives.  So even now that I spend most of my working life in an office, I do try to get outside at some point during each day.  Everyone needs exercise, some opportunity to manufacture vitamin D, and a reminder that, even in the midst of climate change, we do, for the moment, still experience seasons.   So going outdoors is beneficial, both physically and mentally, even in the depths of winter, as long as you wear gloves.

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