Why I‘m Not Mourning the End of Summer

Woodburner smallI work in a sector where the colder days and dark nights are a cause of dread.  If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or depression of any sort, the cold gloomy days ahead can seem interminable, and the fact that we’ve had a good summer this year seems to make it worse, by highlighting the contrast.

I’m the last person who would trivialise peoples’ anxiety about winter, especially those who have mental health issues, but I’m one of those people who are lucky enough not to suffer from SAD, and can see the benefits that the cooler days bring. 

For a start, I love the autumn colour: Glen Affric in the autumn is a delight, particularly if you get one of those cold bright days, which we sometimes do.  Who doesn’t like crunching about in autumn leaves and collecting conkers?

Admittedly I don’t like the cold – not one bit- so living in the northern most part of the British mainland may seem like an odd choice, but as Billy Connelly said, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather only inappropriate clothing’, so as long as I can wrap up and keep warm I’m happy to engage with the colder weather on my own terms!  I love putting on my winter woollies, which my mum knits, and walking on a deserted beach; I actually really like seeing the first snow fall on the mountains, and watching Ben Wyvis, which I can see from my utility room, turn white at the summit.  I even love crunching the white stuff underfoot and building snowmen (well, snow pigs in my case, but the point is the same).  Also, I am in love with my wood burner.  There I’ve said it!  I will be delighted with the new opportunities this season presents to stoke up the fire.  There’s something magical about being toastie-warm in front of a real fire, whilst it’s blowing a gale outside.

There are many other seasonal benefits to be had – the darker night skies provide much better opportunities for stargazing, and if like me, you’re lucky enough to live in a ‘dark sky’ environment you’ll appreciate the clear night skies at this time of year.  The northern lights (Aurora Borealis) are also only really visible in the autumn and winter months, and although I’ve not yet had the privilege of seeing them, the north is one of the best spots in the UK to do so.

Food is always a pet subject of mine, and at this time of year there are plenty of seasonal delights from blackberries and other hedgerow food, to chestnuts, game and stews.  Gone are the summer salads, in is hearty, wholesome, warming grub in extra big portions to give me energy for keeping warm: steaming piles of fluffy creamed potatoes, soups of every kind, stodgy puddings, and back on board are the lovely shellfish too.

I enjoy getting out and about, but the cold short days are also a good excuse to curl up on the sofa, in front of the fire, with a good book, or a good film, and not feel guilty.  I do miss the exercise I get in the summer from gardening, but I can sit inside smug in the knowledge that all the tending has been done and my sprouts are doing their thing in time for Christmas.

I said the ‘C’ word.  I’m aware it’s not something that sets everyone’s heart alight, but I do love Christmas and all the traditions associated with it:  Candlelit carols, wrapping presents, sending cards, visiting friends and family, and all the food sights and smells that go with this time of year –the Christmas cakes, pickles, hams, cheeses, mulled wine, and all the Christmas spices.  And let’s not forget the start of the citrus season too!

There are lots of things to enjoy as we move towards cooler weather, and of course, there’s always the spring to look forward too!  Would we appreciate it as much, do you think if we didn’t have autumn and winter?




Look up There May be a Rainbow Waiting..

Rainbow Loch NessI have always loved rainbows.  When I was a teenager I had a rainbow poster, and when I went to college I sought out a huge rainbow that covered an entire wall of my room.  Rainbows may seem to some an odd thing to love, but for me they’re unendingly  cheerful: somehow full of life and joy and, well, colour.  The dictionary states that a rainbow is ‘an arch of colours formed in the sky in certain circumstances, caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain’ or it can also be any display of the colours of the spectrum produced by dispersion of light.  A simple and beautiful thing that I’m forever trying to capture on camera, and it would seem I’m not alone – a quick search on ‘Shutterstock’ brings back 178,561 results!

So, what is the fascination with this common phenomenon? Apparently we’ve been captivated with rainbows forever, and there are songs, poems and art to prove the fact.  In Norse mythology the rainbow is the road between the worlds of God and men, Indians believed it was a bridge between life and death and the Irish…well we all know about that elusive pot of gold, and it wasn’t made up for the film!

Of course there’s the biblical reference to the rainbow being a covenant between God and humanity too, a promise that there will never again be a flood that destroys the whole earth (although some of us may have been doubting that last summer!)

Whatever the roots, there are a few aspects that continue to attract me – the nod at hope; the world hasn’t flooded yet, and it’s still exciting to my adult self to look up and see a rainbow in the sky after, or more often than not, during a rain shower; the Irish myth has appeal, hinting at the unattainable – you never can find the end of the rainbow of course.  Finally, there’s just the sheer wonder and beauty of seeing that refraction of light; sometimes bright, sometimes pale, but always magnificent.

I love colour, and am known for my bright choices, and often rainbow shades, borrowing something of the hope, joy and colour from the wonder of the universe.  I seem to have seen more than my fair share of rainbows since I moved to the Highlands.  I’ve not found a pot of gold yet, nor have I managed to take the perfect rainbow photograph, but it still gives me a thrill to look up and see a rainbow arching across the sky in all its splendour.  You could do worse than look up every so often – you might get a nice rainbow surprise!