It’s sensory overload, really.
There’s a sound which stands out in every season. Sounds are muffled by snow in winter so that all you hear is your own breath entering and leaving your body. If there’s no snow, the muffled sound comes courtesy of your hat pulled down over your ears so again you’re left with your breathing and the sound of your feet splashing through puddles and over pavements. The colours of winter are muted greys and blues with dazzling white for a handful of days if you’re very, very lucky and live away from polluting city traffic.
In the spring, there’s the smell of new leaves and the vivid, virid new growth. Life returns with enough punch and power to drive roots downwards through the earth and branches up and out through the sky. You can feel that power, if you’re enough of a hippy. The rest of us just feel better because we’re getting more daylight. Late in spring, the yellow of rape screams across field after field like Young Farmers pissed up on cider.
In summer, you hear skylarks but seldom see them. They’re little disembodied piping voices coming out of a blue, blue sky. That green of spring gets bleached out eventually even in the dampest of dismal British summers so that by late August greens are pallid and the cereals in the fields are burnished golden by the sun. Hot tar in cities has its smell. Damp earth after rainfall is a special smell.
Autumn is my favourite time of year. I was running through the woodland belts round Wimpole yesterday. In the place of the pad, pad, pad noise my feet make on the same trails during winter they were making a ship, ship, ship noise as I ran through drifts of fallen leaves. I remember Seonaid talking about going shoof-shoof through the piles of leaves as she walked around when she was a child. I may have misremembered exactly what she was talking about but that sound is so evocative of the life lived outside at this time of year. There is also the smell of all those leaves and their beautiful colours.
I’m not sure why I like autumn so much. There are quite a lot of anniversaries marking the deaths of family, friends and even pets at this time of year. Those beautiful leaves are filled with waste products and toxins before they drop. The new academic year has always brought some kind of hope of change and renewal even as the days shorten and the calendar year draws to a close. That hope and the shoof-shoof of an autumnal walk or a brisker ship-ship-ship are what make life seem just a little lighter in the gathering dark.