Embracing Autumn & All Its Glories 

If you've been hanging around this website for a while, you'll probably have noticed that here at Raggedy Ann Girl we love the changing seasons. Speaking personally, I love each and every season for its variety, its beauty and, yes, its challenges. But more than any other, it's Autumn about which I am most passionate.

I know it marks the passing of another summer and heralds the start of the colder months, but for me Autumn is not the end of anything, rather it is the beginning. Of mellowness. Of cosiness. Of sweaters and boots. And of candles and blankets. It's the start of all the best celebrations of the year – Harvest Festival, Halloween and, dare I say it, Christmas. It's the time we bring in the harvest, when we can enjoy, literally, the fruits (and vegetables) of all our labour in the garden. For me, September, and not January, marks the point at which I start over. Perhaps I'm still anchored in my childhood, when September marked the start of the new school year. Perhaps it has to do with the still-young football season and the point at which even the most wearied supporters amongst us are still full of hope for what's to come. More likely it's simply that I prefer this time of year, so look forward to it with great enthusiasm.

I have countless happy memories of Autumn. Of kicking through the piles of golden fallen leaves on London's Birdcage Walk with my Nana when I was just a tot. Of exploring the fabulous colours of a New England Fall as an adult. Of collecting conkers and acorns and sycamore 'helicopters' for the class nature table. And of walking through my local park as leaves tumble down around me.

Of course, I'm not alone in loving Autumn. There are countless songs about this time of year. Particularly when it comes to classy and whistful songs like Autumn Leaves, and September Song. Granted these songs are a bit melancholy rather than celebratory. But think of the poems about Autumn. Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 speaks so beautifully about the season: "That time of year thou mayst in me behold, When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang, Upon those boughs which shake against the cold".

And Keats, in perhaps my favourite poem (a perennial favourite at my primary school assemblies), To Autumn writes: 

"Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless; With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees"

Now, you're probably thinking, all this high-brow stuff is all well and good, but we're talking about chilly days and cold nights, and the loss of daylight. And it's true, Autumn can bring around a sense of  deflation. After all, you've almost certainly had your last barbeque, are unlikely to drive to the beach for the day, and can pretty much give up on eating ice-cream out of doors. But all is not lost. Granted summer might be the more lush, but Autumn offers its own unique beauty. With leaves dappled in colours from gold to orange to russet to scarlet, gardens with trees weighed down with plumpening fruits, and beds packed with vegetables and swollen seed heads. And it's time to put on those sweaters and cosy boots, and to accessorise with scarves and hats and gloves. In the kitchen we get to bake pies, rustle up casseroles and simmer soups. We can light candles for beauty and cosiness and not just for fragrance. But I know that some people remain unconvinced. So for those who still don't fully appreciate the full and joyous season that is Autumn, here are just a few of our favourite things to make Autumn all the more enjoyable!

Comfort Food

Autumn means soups, casseroles, pies, roasts, melty cheese & dumplings. I know, not on the face of it what you'd call diet food, but it us possible to cook healthy cold weather food. And it's food that will make both your body and your soul feel nourished.

Soothing Drinks

No longer will you need to pack ice into every drink just to make it palatable. Autumn brings about a desire and, yes, a need, for warming beverages. From hot chocolate to hot toddies there is simply nothing nicer to cheer you up on a dull day. When you're feeling full of bugs, a hot drink can really perk you up. When you're stressed it will relax you. And when you're out and about in town, there's always the fabulous seasonal drinks on offer at Starbucks. Creme Brulee Macchiato or Pumpkin Spice Latte anyone?

The Crisp Outdoors
Surely even those of us not outdoor-inclined can appreciate the cool, clean, fresh air of Autumn? No more stuffy, clammy days. Or wasp bombardment. Or ants after your sarnies. Or smog. A walk to the shops is now a pleasant diversion, rather than a strenuous hike. Oh, and people who aren't all hot and sticky are much nicer to be around.

Nature's Paintbrush

Come Autumn, everywhere you look there is colour. Russets, scarlets, plums and golds. The landscape is awash with gorgeous tones both bright and muted. Supermarkets and greengrocers are beginning to stock bright orange pumpkins, new season apples and multi-coloured root vegetables. All of which reminds us that God, or Mother Nature (if you're so inclined) is the very best artist of all.

Let There Be Light … And Darkness

I've written before about the joys of lighting up dark corners of the house with candles come the colder months. But it's not just the naked flame that is so appealing. There's something simply comforting about darker evenings, and about snuggling up with only a soft light, electric or otherwise, to brighten a room. And how much easier is it to get to sleep in a dark room, than in one where the setting sun is still illuminating everything.

Bright Copper Kettles & Warm Woollen Mittens

Wrapping up against the cold is surely one of the most primal human needs. And one of our greatest joys. To me the donning of scarves and gloves and hats is always welcome (even though the dreaded hat-hair is never far away). You can inject vibrant colour into your bland outerwear, stay cosy, and look coordinated too. And, big plus here as far as I'm concerned, you can makebelieve you're a character in Little Women. When you get back inside, you can settle back down on the sofa under a cosy blanket. Bliss!

The colours of Fall are mellow and varied. Almost any trip to a park or garden offers a great photo opportunity

A display of Autumnal fruits and vegetables add interest and colour to any hearth – it's like having your own nature table at home!

Whether taking a brisk walk or a gentle stroll the Great Outdoors is awash with colour and if you can't get out, you can always bring the outdoors inside.