Kicking through crunchy leaves. Watching conkers bulging on horse chestnut trees and willing them to drop. Their beautiful, shiny, swirly, deep brown-ness that you have to catch quick before it fades. Breath on a chilly night. Pumpkins, butternut squash, soups,stews. Russets and golden browns. Long walks. Crisp cool air with bright blue skies. Snuggly jumpers and scarves. Bedding down. Boots. The crackle and hiss, the nose tingling of bonfires in the air.
I absolutely love autumn. I love autumn with a real unbridled child like joy. I experience a real sense of excitement every year when I start to feel it coming in the air. When I realise that soon I can go in search of conkers. Or when I spot a big pile of nice autumn leaves to crunch and kick through to my heart's content.
Take this evening or example. After a long day in the office I really fancied a little walk before settling down for the evening, to get some fresh air and clear my head a bit. Alex came with me. It was just what I needed. The air was nice and cold, but not too cold. The moon was bright. There were some leaves on the ground and I kicked through them absent mindedly as we chatted. And then I spotted there were conker trees lining our route and I could on longer focus fully on the conversation. It no longer mattered that we were only out for a short stroll before needing to get back for dinner. Time ceased to exist. Conkers were afoot. And underfoot, and all I wanted to do was find them and pick them up. I set about filling my pockets and hands with the biggest, shiniest bestest specimens I could find. My favourites are the ones still in their spiky green cases, so you have to carefully prise them out yourself. Or the ones that, when you open them up, actually turn out to be two twins in one case. It doesn't matter how many conkers I have about my person already, or how many times I've been out collecting that day/week/year, or how many years I've been doing it for, it never stops being fun and exciting and satisfying. And Alex knows this and so he joined in. It's weird, because it's not actually about having them, or taking them home. They almost lose some of their magic and romance once you do get them home. The joy is in finding them in the first place and marvelling at their number, and their beautiful deep colour. I know I'm probably quite weird in this way but there we go. I've talked before on here of my love of all things nature, and conkers are really the absolute pinnacle of all of that.
It's not just conkers I love. I don't just love autumn because it happens to be the home of conkers. I love acorns too, for example. Because squirrels love to squirrel them away and I have a particular affinity with squirrels (also documented on here) and because Peter Pan thinks they are kisses and gives one to Wendy which is just too cute. To be honest, I pretty much love all that autumn has to offer. And photographing it, all but one of these pics were taken today which was kind of my inspiration for the post.
I know I'm supposed to love spring best, with its promise of new life and rebirth and jolly prancing lambs and pretty flowers. Or summer, with its clear blue skies and long evenings and floaty skirts and barbeques. And I do love all of those things. But best of all I love autumn. Others might not understand. For many I'm sure Autumn signifies death and decay and bleak long dark nights and rain. But I never tire of it. Autumn has a lot to thank spring and summer for I suppose. If it weren't for all the nice new green leaves that grow in spring or the humid hottness of summer, autumn wouldn't be half as fun. Yet all too soon the leaves will have turned to mush, the conkers have faded and shrivelled and the lovely crisp blue air replaced by wintery ice, and snow, and hats and gloves.
But then again, I love all of those too.
So if I were to spin this around and try to find a link worthy of a blog that purports to chat about happiness as opposed to just about conkers, I'd say there are a few happiness tips in action here:
1. getting out and about and into nature is proven to improve happiness
2. being mindful and in the moment and noticing what is going on around you as opposed to lost in your own head, snap
3. getting a change of scenery, stepping away from the desk and the daily humdrum to clear some metaphorical space
4. moving and exercise, another biggie in the increasing happiness stakes. Nobody ever got happy sat on the sofa all day
5. finding things to be grateful for, whatever they may be, even if on the face of it things seem bleak
6. togetherness and socialising are key. Whilst getting some alone time is also important, holding Alex's hand and mooching around together was lovely
7. Conkers are amazing and I defy anybody not to smile when they find one*
*NB point 7 not quite as scientifically robust as the other 6, but I stand by it.