“Autumn is as joyful and sweet as an untimely end.”— Remy de Gourmont
Late autumn has come to Luzern, and we’re enjoying an Indian summer. Days are still sunny and the afternoons warm, but mornings are nippy and the sunshine is paler. It’s a time for fleeces — a time for layering.
Autumn won’t mean anything for some people…just an interlude between summer and Christmas. But for me, it’s a twilight season. Light drains from the world and the air grows cooler. Winter’s darkness is just round the corner.
It’s natural to feel wistful as the clocks go back and mists gather, but this has always been my favourite time. Autumn in Switzerland is a feast of sensations. People talk of autumn colour, but there’s something magical about a blaze of yellow leaves against a sapphire sky, and the tang of hot chestnuts hanging in the air.
Maybe it’s my northern soul, but autumn’s melancholy suits me. Low light, bright skies, changing colour — it’s all so ephemeral. And there’s nothing like the first whiff of drifting wood smoke. I missed all that when I lived in Hong Kong. Autumn there resembles a long English summer. One minute you’re wearing a T-shirt and shorts…the next you’re ordering the Christmas turkey. The change is abrupt and strangely uncomfortable.
I appreciate a shifting of gears. For me, autumn is more than a season. It’s a state of mind.
Stephen Chamberlain is the author of the fantasy novel Graëlfire. He draws inspiration from the impact of landscape on myth, and the association of liminality with the supernatural and magic. Stephen lives in Switzerland.