By Holly Downes
Autumn. A season of violent change. As the warm summer nights, the wholesome picnics in distant fields, and the opportunity to indulge in ice cream fades, I am confronted with melancholia. The season filled with lively festivals, catchups with old friends in beer gardens and trips abroad has disappeared, all to be replaced with a season of monotony. For some, Autumn is a time to appreciate the dynamic beauty of the earth, yet for me, it is the opposite. I cannot celebrate a season that forces me to mourn the joys of summer.
No longer am I woken up to the sun beaming through my window. The blazing rays that used to flood through the small gaps in my curtains have succumbed to the darkness. They were once resistant to the night, their beautiful beams overpowering the dark in a transcendental nature – a nature that no longer remains. Instead, the sky is blanketed with dullness. Waking up to the delicate sounds of birds chirping is now something to reminisce upon. Admiring nature’s flourishing flowers is now replaced with a grimace at its stagnation. The trees are stripped bare. The flowers are dead. The sky is dark.
No longer can I walk outside without covering up my identity. The summer dresses and light cardigans that delicately carved my character have been held captive in the back of my wardrobe, to hopefully be freed in nine months’ time. I can sense their desperation, their yearning for care and love, but the season prevents me from showing such tenderness. Instead, my outfits are not crafted with passion and enthusiasm, but with carelessness and discontent. They are not expressive, but are now lifeless pieces of material to serve one purpose – insulation. As I slather my body with another layer and cover my locks with a woollen hat, I barricade the features that shaped my identity. The coldness has violently torn away my self-identity.
No longer am I mesmerised by the afterglows of the sunset after being freed from my six o’clock lectures. Beyond the lecture hall I am not greeted with elegant arrays of oranges and pinks but with menacing shades of blackness. Jet-black ink has been angrily splattered over the once beautiful oil painting, removing every possibility of admiration. I am no longer fascinated by the painter’s talented strokes, but am fearful of what lies within the dark ink.
As I conjure up the bravery to step out of the warmth, the darkness rudely envelopes me at every timid step, transforming a once comforting walk into a walk of unease. The warm-hearted eyes I used to pass are no longer recognizable, the darkness has homogenised their faces. Distinguishable features have become mere amalgamations of dark shades, leaving only the white lining of the eye to remain. The darkness has stripped people of their identities, forcing them to succumb to the power of the night. As once kind faces become threatening, paths that seemed safe now dangerous, the protection the light provided has been replaced with the unknown.
No longer can wholly trust my senses. The senses that have guided me since I was born deceive me in the night. I am now reliant on dimly lit streetlights and the flashlight of my phone to provide clarity. As I hurriedly walk down a dark street, the naked trees and I simultaneously shiver at the cold Autumn breeze. A singular leaf blows with the unwelcoming gust, reminding me of the isolating nature of the season.
No longer can I soak up the sun’s natural warmth, but am forced to rely upon artificial heat sources for comfort. As another day is filled with infinite cups of tea and scorching bowls of soup, I become subordinate to country’s supply of heat. The radiator is not a futile piece of equipment anymore but is integral to sustain my body temperature. As I quickly turn its nob, it gurgles and splutters at the sharp pump of hot water flooding its ice-cold lining. The same way its deep slumber is rudely interrupted, Autumn demands us to awaken from our beauty sleep and face the brutality of the harsh cold.
Being plunged into the deep depths of Autumn, I try and search for the burning shades of crimsons and burnt orange Keats so delicately articulated, yet my search is unsuccessful. Instead of relishing the warmth of pumpkin spice lattes and autumnal walks down the riverside, I have come to detest these seasonal activities. The artificial taste of the sugared drink sends me into a grimace, the paths once blanketed with a-flame leaves have turned to a brown sludge from the footsteps of humans, the coldness that seeps into my bones creating a prolonged shiver.
This is not a season to be celebrated, but to be despised. I know I must not dwell on the negatives, but every attempt to locate Autumn’s renowned beauty fails – it is hard to find something that is never there.
Illustration by Anna Kuptsova