They say Christmas is the most wonderful time of year and in the thick of Christmas ham, fairy lights, Mariah Carey’s ‘Merry Christmas’ album on repeat and ‘Lovely Actually’ on TV almost daily, I tend to agree. Until it gets to this time of year and the leaves colour and fall, crisp air turns cheeks rosy and wood-smoke plumes into the sky before settling in a cloudy haze above the trees. Only then do I remember, no actually, this is my very favourite time of year. So, in the spirit of celebrating life’s simple pleasures (because that’s become my life philosophy of sorts in recent years), here are five simple ways to celebrate autumn:
1 // Enjoy the outdoors.
At the moment, the weather is perfection. Not too cold, not too hot – just glorious sunny days with a crisp autumnal edge. But, make no mistake, winter is coming! So, for that matter, is the new season of Game of Thrones – anyone else counting down the days?! As for the weather, there’s only so much sunshine left until we find ourselves in the depths of winter’s cold, dreary days. So, get outside and enjoy it! Grab a cosy scarf, don a jacket if you have to, notice the gorgeous golden hues, crunch through the fallen leaves, turn your face to the sun and soak in some vitamin D.
2 // Light a fire.
For me, wood-smoke is the unmistakable scent of autumn. Mix that with the earthy South Gippsland scent of clover, eucalypt, and rich soil – the scent of my childhood – and my heart well and truly explodes! There’s something just so special and grounding about lighting a fire. If you’re lucky enough to have a fire inside, light it, lounge it front of it and let the cosiness transform your home. If you don’t have a fire, fill a room with candles for a similar, warming effect. Or better yet, head outside! Light a bonfire and get rid of some garden rubbish, or invest in a fire pit (just make sure you follow your council’s rules regarding fires). Sit, stoke the fire, watch it crackle and add some toasted marshmallows for extra autumnal goodness.
3 // Get lost in a book.
Now that you’ve got your fire or candles going, there is one golden rule – no scrolling on your phone! Instead, get lost in a really good book. Add a blanket, grab a cup of tea, cosy up and take some time to adventure into an imaginary world. After the busy, social days of summer, autumn is a time for retreat, rest and reflection – so allow yourself to soften and be still.
4 // Do some cooking.
I don’t know about you, but I’m totally over barbeques and salad! These autumn days call for baking sweet treats, thick vegetable soups and slow-cooked stews. Take some time to search for warming, nourishing recipes, perhaps visit a farmers’ market to gather your ingredients, and then enjoy a slow Sunday of cooking. Food for the soul.
5 // Plant some autumn vegetables.
Yes, the verdant summer growing season is over – but there’s still lots to be done in the garden. Whilst fancy raised patches are all the rage (and we have some in our backyard – guilty!), veggie gardening doesn’t have to be difficult. Dig up some dirt, plant some seeds or seedlings. Simple. As a relative newbie (yet already totally addicted) grower myself, I can vouch for the fact that there is nothing as relaxing or rewarding. If you’re in south-east Australia like me, it’s time to get busy planting carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, fennel, onions, leeks, radishes, turnips, swedes, spinach and silverbeet – all great additions to those warming soups and stews! Even as we head into the cooler months, Mother Nature continues to work her magic beneath the soil. All we have to do is plant the seed.
And one last bonus celebration: take advantage of the cooler weather by getting cosy and snuggling up with a loved one. After the sticky, sweaty days of summer, there’s nothing like a warming cuddle in autumn!
Most of all, ground yourself in the here and now. Autumn is a beautiful time of year and we’re lucky to be alive. Stop, reflect and soak it all in. It’s yours to enjoy.