Monday, 18 November 2013

Prompt & Circumstance: Autumn

The library was warm. Too warm. That’s the thing with the university library there is never a happy medium. It’s either way too warm or absolutely freezing. I’d mention it to the staff but I doubt anything would ever be done about it. The students just adapt by varying the number of layers they are dressed in.

For the past two years November was a month where you could run home after lectures and put your feet up. Third year means you barely see sunlight. But I’ve finished for the day and at least I can still see my hand in front of my face. I won’t be so lucky in a few weeks time.

Walking though the campus there is a myriad of people and I begin to question if I do know what month it is. The university prospectus boasts glorious pictures of the beach across the road from campus and all on a bright and beautiful day. The question in my mind is if they will ever be done for false advertising? Regardless of the fact that it’s colder than it has been for a while and I can see my breath in puffs in front of my eyes many of my peers are dressed in flip flops and shorts. Apparently even when the weather dips to single digits they are still hopeful for beach time.

I stop questioning myself when I pass the Starbucks and see posters advertising their eggnog lattes and the signature red cups. Autumn means fire works. It means that Starbucks gets to make an extra few pence for serving their seasonal favourites and Christmas decorations get the dust blown off them ready to be put up in time for the Christmas parade at the end of the month.  

I finally find my way out of the grounds and as I walk down the street I watch as people become skilled in martial arts. They dodge and swipe at the leaves, helicopters and other debris that rains down on them. I stifle my laughter as a woman jumps when a leaf hits her forehead before continuing on its way.

People here seem more prepared. Gloves and scarfs and thicker coats are worn. There’s the occasional jogger going past who wears a beanie hat and I silently commend them for their courage. I’m not a runner on the best of days but when it’s like this… it’s a struggle for me to find the will to get out of bed.

The pavement that I walk on is no longer its dark and dull grey with spots of chewing gum white. Instead it is a thick carpet of fire. Reds, oranges and yellows glare up at me. Each step I take makes a satisfying crisp cracking sound which can just be heard over the noise of passing cars. I’m savouring each step today. It won’t be long before the bitterly cold air is cut by lashings of rain. Then the crunch of the leaves will disappear and becomes a sludge of brown matter that you pray won’t get stuck to your wellington boots.

It’s not long before I reach my car. Settling myself inside it’s as if the vehicle has become a cool box. Shivering, I jam my key into the ignition. It takes some time but eventually the car shows signs that it is alive. I turn the radiator dial from blue all the way to the thickest patch of red. I don’t dare to drive yet. Involuntary muscle spasms in the form of shivering do not exclude my legs. The last thing I need is to be tapping on the break and accelerator without any real means to.
Autumn always seems to go by in a hurry. It’s almost as if it rushes to clear up what summer has done ready for winter to make its grand appearance. But I like autumn and I wish it would stay longer. It’s an in between season where things change dramatically. Not just physically through the things around us but also the people.

I always find that people have changed the most around autumn. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so long in education. After spending a summer where you see some and not others, starting back in autumn can be a showcase of changes. A catwalk for personalities. Stories about holidays, work experience and illnesses. And I listen to each, intent to learn how the person I knew only a few months ago has changed even if that change is slight.

The car eventually warms and I can finally see through the windscreen. I ease myself out of the car park and head towards home hoping that when I wake tomorrow that autumn will not have rushed out of my sight.

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