Chitra Ramaswamy: Leaf’s too short
I LOVE this time of year. For some, autumn is a finale, a never-ending dusk or a metaphor for ageing. For the rest of us, it’s the season that does what it says on the tin.
The cold, hard mornings that start with porridge and ground frost. The chance to say “autumnal” as much as possible, a word so suggestive it can conjure up tummies covered in Fair Isle jumpers and Mr Tumnus dropping his parcels in Narnia all at once (for me anyway). The light that sharpens everything, making the neglected suddenly noticeable. Beautiful, even.
Like a tree halfway up Easter Road, which I see every day on my walk to work. Or rather for eleven months of the year I don’t see it, and then comes autumn, a season so lovely Kurt Weill composed September Song for it. Suddenly my tree demands to be noticed. It puts on its best dress and, for a few weeks, shakes its branches and strikes a pose like it’s going to the Oscars every day.
It’s not much of a tree. Just one of those bog-standard, fenced-in numbers that are only interesting to dogs with cocked hind legs. It doesn’t have a memorable silhouette, the kind of trunk you want to slap in appreciation or a tangle of roots to trip over. Occasionally it gets a plastic bag stuck in its branches, but that’s its only adornment. There are thousands like it. It is the opposite of special.
Until now. Its leaves have turned the most extraordinary shade of pink. A pink that’s better than bubblegum, pig-skin, cake frosting or the blush on a lover’s cheek. Nature has performed its slow magic on this humble tree, and every commuter passing admires its clever handiwork. Some, like your smitten correspondent, even look back. Then, of course, the leaves fall and I walk on by again.
I love how things change at home as well. Meals get stodgier, the potato becomes queen, and the winter coat is hunted out and despaired over. It suddenly becomes acceptable to watch three cookery shows in a row and then go to bed at 9.30pm. In summer, this is a sign of depression. In autumn, it’s called preparing for winter. Like squirrels do, but with Nigel Slater instead of nuts.
There is one problem, though. Despite this being my 33rd autumn, I still can’t dress for it. Granted, this isn’t an issue on a par with what to do about the West Coast main line fiasco or how to take seriously a world where you can buy a vest that hugs you if someone ‘Like’s you on Facebook. But it’s a concern.
It's reliable, like autumn, and begins the same way every day – standing in your underwear, screaming, “I don’t have any clothes” at your clothes. The problem is one of transition. Winter coat or not? Shoes or boots? Hat or umbrella? Jumper or cardigan?
Eventually I do as I always do. Wear far too little and spend the day envying everyone in their autumn best while I feel like the kid that turns up on dress-down Friday in school uniform. I guess I’m just being autumnal. The leaves on the trees can’t make up their minds. Neither can I.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east