It was the first of October and I awoke to the sound,
Of rain hitting the windows and pattering softly on the ground.
Upon opening the windows and surveying the bleak morning view,
I was met by a spectrum of russet tones, lifting my mood.
Golds, browns and oranges scattered; creating an artists palette of hues.
A kaleidoscopic carpet shimmered in the rain soaked dew.
Yes, it’s autumn. Mixed emotions about this one. Many of you will hate the end of the summer. Many of you will embrace the cosy nights. It’s a time where we dig out our fluffy bed socks and feel the need to wrap ourselves in a warm blanket. We all start to shut down and go into hibernation mode. I for one have never had a pantry and freezer so full (squirrel nutkins has nothing on me!), all I’m missing are some nuts and pickles in my well stocked winter larder.
I used to hate autumn. I have memories of coming home from school: a nip in the air, empty fields, farmers burning their waste and the dark nights drawing in like a blanket putting out the roaring summer fire. It was so depressing. There was never anything to do. With four channels on the telly and no one playing out, as it was ‘too cold and dark’ (we were wusses) the only thing to look forward to was the church harvest festival; bidding for a jar of homemade jam and guessing the weight of an oversized pumpkin was as exciting as it got.
Also, darker days meant cold nights. Growing up in an old and draughty 18th century farmhouse could be very challenging at times; especially as we had no central heating. Blustery October (remember the hurricane on 87?) nearly killed me with nightmares of our roof being ripped off, or worse, one of the horse chestnuts crashing down into the house (yes, dramatic as a child too). But autumn days also brought with them the fear of the frost. October was the prelude to the main event. It seemed to me that as soon as the high winds had stopped stripping the trees, the pumpkins had become surplus to requirements, and sunlight barely made an appearance, that Jack Frost starting haunting my childhood dreams. Deicing my bedroom windows from the inside was never pleasant on a school morning (I had a Dickensian childhood) The only thing that got me out of bed from October until March was to put on the calor gas fire in my room. Problem was if I fell asleep with it on, or left it too long, I’d develop a headache and a very sore throat…I’m sure they’d be a health warning now!
So west changed? Why now do I embrace autumn? It might have something to do with (what the 16th century Danes coined) getting on my ‘Hygge’. Or, what I term ‘getting cosy’
Rule one is ‘Mood Lighting’. You have to have lots of lights and candles lit, at all times, all over the house – inside and out. Lighting up is one of the most comforting and mood boosting things you can do. Not though putting the Big light on – it’s traumatising, as by doing this you can reverse all the calm, cosy and happy feeling generated by: lamps, coloured bulbs (not red ones as people will gossip – not that I care) fairy lights, light boxes and candles. My current aim in to put more lighting on my decking area and also at the front of the house. This will certainly involve seasonal inspiration: pumpkins followed by some Christmas extravaganza (not tacky as that’s not hygge). Additionally, lights stop SAD. Note that I have discovered two ways to treat this: one is buy a really expensive light box. Two is set a timer on your bedside lamp (cheaper alternative). There is a third option, to stay in bed until it gets light. But unless you are retired, have no children at home, unemployed or have a seasonal job, this isn’t an option.
Next thing I’ve done is wash all our blankets. We have (at last stock take) 6 fluffy throws. This means even Rosie Dog has one (if she starts to develop SAD). It’s imperative these are a) fluffy, and b) well maintained, as a scratchy smelly blanket is neither comforting nor cosy. This mindset also needs to be applied when dressing. Soft knitwear (no rash inducing wool allowed), fur lined boots, capes and scarves all the way! If you don’t (or your nearest and dearest) feel or look like you’ve stepped out of the Next autumn book then you turn back round and root through your wardrobe until you do (excuse to shop). No one wants to cuddle a cold and scaly fish (on that note – make sure you moisturise as the following will cause scaling issues)
Keep warm, keep dry. Now then, the males in my family being Yorkshiremen, all sing from the same hymn sheet ‘thou shall wear coat indoors if cold’. This is interesting logic when you look at the rise in energy costing. However, as Him and I work more hours a week than is allowed by laws of humanity, I simply refuse to live in a cold house. Moreover, when it is super cold, I have fragrant (essential mood lifting oils) hot baths, cover myself in warm fuzzy felt pyjamas and roll myself up like a sausage roll in one of previously mentioned blankets. This is usually avec child or dog or both. The only time a coat is worn indoors is when sitting at the back door working and Rosie Dog is doing circuits. Therefore, hang the expense: washing, heating, nice smelling products and bathing are all on the ‘hygge’
NB as mentioned a good moisturiser is key and if you can get a massage. This boosts the circulation and lymphatic drainage making you feel more alive and relaxed than ever.
Now the good bit for all you food fans (I love talking about and eating food). As I previously mentioned food needs to be in ready supply. You need extra fat on your bones to keep out the cold. That means you are allowed to eat that pie and mash. You are allowed that calorific curry and you can have large plate at the Sunday carvery. It’s all acceptable as you need to keep warm and well. And, if you want a tot of brandy in your nighttime cuppa, tell anyone who challenges you that I said it’s Swan’s law. Food and drink are essential to fuel the body’s winter fire. If not you will shut down like a tortoise and you’ll never last the winter.
Talking of hibernation. I particularly like the autumn as it gives me an excuse to hide. As someone who suffers from ‘The Fear’ it means I can stay in and not have to worry about feeling stupid in social situations. It means I can curl up in the knowledge I shouldn’t be doing something sociable as ‘it’s too dark and cold’. I’m allowed to hibernate. I’m allowed to light my burner, carve my pumpkins, cook Greek lamb stew for my beautiful ones and wrap fairy lights around my whole house. I’m allowed to do all these things cos’ it’s ‘hygge’
Happy October. Get your hygge on! I’m going to light my candles.