First published in the Portsmouth News, 16th September 2014
Autumn again: my favourite time of year.
I used to run, before it caused my hips to fall apart, and running up Portsdown Hill at dawn on a blue-skied Autumn Saturday takes some beating. The silent view of the city, beautiful from a distance in the milky light, is a sight of wonder. Pavements crackle underfoot with the first thin, fragile frosts that hint at a winter yet to come, and you have the sense that you are looking down on the entire world.
September heralds a new year for me, and I credit this with being a teacher. The childhood memories of crisp new stationery and the spindle point of freshly sharpened pencils never quite leave you. It’s a creamy new page to start again, full of promise and possibility.
It also signals the speed at which the seasons pass. My daughters are another year older, the nappies and the sterilisers another year in the past. Their independence continues to grow, and I hang on to the days because each one will lead them, eventually, further away from their little pool of childhood.
I do not miss the stretches of lonely night, when you are awake with a newborn whilst the rest of the planet appears to be smugly traversing the Land of Nod, but I do ache for the days when my girls were tiny.
The sweet boredom of afternoons with nothing to do but coo at each other; the firm weight of their bodies in my arms; the smell of baby that is tucked away in the creases of their newly minted skin. I find it hard to comprehend that I will never again experience this as a mother: as a grandmother perhaps, if I am lucky, but not as a mum.
My favourite memory is of an autumn afternoon, six years ago. I sat on our sofa holding Amelie in my arms. She and I used to spend hours simply staring at each other, and as I held her I looked into the garden at my husband, who was raking the leaves from the large oak tree next door to us. An old Waitrose ad was playing in the background, with Keats being read over the strands of Golden Brown by The Stranglers. My eldest daughter was safe and happy at her nursery, and all was well with me and mine.
Time is so transient; we must try to treasure it.
(The Waitrose advert link to youtube… if you fancy feeling a little bit of autumn bliss, give it a click …. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-pxuWgsa3g )