Autumn has the loveliest smile
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower,’ said the philosopher Albert Camus. ‘Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile,’ offered New York Post editor William Cullen Bryant, while P. G. Wodehouse wrote of a ‘bracing tang in the air that sends the blood beetling briskly through the veins’.
Although Donne (‘no spring nor summer beauty hath such grace/as I have seen in one autumnal face’) and Keats (‘mellow fruitfulness’) famously welcomed the season, with its hues of gold and allegories of plenteousness (‘What we lose in flowers, we more than gain in fruits’: Samuel Butler), as do country-sports people, other poets found the dying of the light, and the foretelling of death and hibernation, melancholy.
Here, on the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment, we find 28 reasons to be cheerful at the start of October.
1 Honking pink-footed geese arrive in ‘Red Arrows’ formation from Siberia 2 Blackberry-and-apple crumble 3 Lighting the fire 4 End of the party conference season 5 Red, yellow and orange leaves transform even the dullest landscape 6 Chestnuts 7 Pumpkin soup 8 Roaring stags 9 Wool Week (October 7–22), celebrating the most environmentally friendly fibre 10 mushrooming 11 Fieldfares, bramblings and Jack snipe 12 the World Conker Championships (October 8 at Southwick, northamptonshire)
13 Starling murmurations 14 the Sixteen’s Choral Pilgrimage 15 Cheltenham Literature Festival (October 6–15)
16 Hunting, national Hunt racing, rugby— all the proper stuff 17 taking the dog beating or picking up 18 Shooters propping up village pubs 19 Pheasant casserole 20 Booker Prize arguments 21 the 1925 The Phantom of the Opera silent horror film at the Coliseum (October 8) 22 Having the beach to yourself 23 Cobwebs across dewy, apple orchards 24 Comforting films about Queen Victoria, A. A. milne and Van Gogh 25 Luscious, blue-purple sloes 26 the Hunter’s moon (tomorrow night, October 5) 27 making cider 28 Putting the lawn mower away