Sarah Cowen-Strong: Autumn brings out my inner child
Away with the quiche and on with the goulash – autumn’s here. As chilled white-wine lunches give way to anything with gravy, boots replace sandals and TV stations pull out the big-guns, we know summer’s over.
And if there’s one season that takes us back to our childhoods, it’s this one. While the poetry of leaf colour is mostly the province of adults, it’s the rustling through piles of these enticing vegetation that’s for the youngsters.
Don’t we all remember the shock as our little feet sank seemingly inches deep, the thrill of the crunch and the enticement of kicking these paper-like playthings high into the air.
And if you don’t remember, or haven’t given it a go since you were seven, then find your nearest tree-lined path and get shuffling.
Thinking about it, I haven’t seen a child plunge into a pile of leaves for years, so you won’t have to move too many out of the way. Either they’re yearning for their iPads or their parents have warned them about what unsavoury surprises lurk at the bottom of the horsechestnut mulch.
And we all know that when it comes to bright, shiny conkers today’s children are discouraged from knocking seven bells out of each other with them – but not necessarily through any fault of their own.
As we indulge in reliving our more simple childhoods we show we are made of stronger stuff. The same applies of pumpkins. Fewer under-10s are interested in the whole carving business, than the legions of grown-ups all too ready to wield a knife and scooper. It’s not the children who want to see cats, moons, and witches astride broomsticks on the side of their lanterns – it’s the artistically repressed mothers.
While decorating pumpkins and trick-or-treating may be a relatively modern pastime, dragging around a newspaper-stuffed pair of trousers in a bobble-hat crying Penny for the Guy is not.
Who hasn’t got fond memories of trailing around effigies and imploring grown-ups for cash to buy sparklers? Nowadays it’s probably not a good idea, so I say move over children and let your parents have a go and spend the money on wine.
And who enjoys bonfires and fireworks more? Well, it’s the adults again, relishing the satisfaction of successfully lighting rockets and Catherine Wheels and stoking a good blaze. Listen out at any firework display and today it’s the grown-ups you hear oohing and aahing and sighing when it’s all over. The children are chasing each other with sticks and wanting to go home.
So not only can autumn transport us grown-ups over a certain age back to our own childhoods, it can help show youngsters that we are much better at behaving like children than they are.