Dear Autumn,

I’m not always pleased to see you at first, but you grow on me. I didn’t really notice you before I had a baby

Illustration drawing ipad painting: Woman in the rain with buggy cover

Autumn in East Dulwich, with a newborn baby. London, London. But then, Autumn has its down days everywhere. © Laura Eades 2013

Dear Autumn,

You really give me a hard time sometimes. I’m writing on a wet Berlin morning when the sun hardly rose.

Already I’m wrestling my disappointment over Summer ending. You’re training me, toughening me up for Winter with these dull days, I know it. Making me fantasise about libraries and cafes, cinemas and firesides.

I think you, Autumn, are supposed to be my new year – a hangover from schooldays and the September start – but I begin you like I’m reluctant about Monday. Begin by squirrelling and getting ready to hunker down. Begin by cooking up big projects to see me through. Colours to light the way.

Autumn, I think I didn’t notice you properly until I had a baby. Those days, when a walk, finally, in the late afternoon was the only adventure.  Sometimes it would be almost dark before we made it out. If. Ploughing the park doggedly with my buggy, trudging in my walking boots, herding the crows. The baby steaming under clear plastic raincover, like a pie under clingfilm. But to be out in your air smelled so good, so real. Your air is one of the richest. Worth hoovering up.

Sometimes we’d walk in a thunderstorm, in a downpour. I didn’t mind, so long as we were out of doors. The baby didn’t mind, so long as the buggy kept moving. Now that baby is a little person who wants to jump in every puddle: she doesn’t know there are unlimited puddles, and it’s not possible to splash in them all.

You’re pretty flash, on occasion, Autumn. You play it mean but you know how to show a girl a good time. As if to reward my resiliance over the dinge, out of the blue you spend all your riches on the odd day. Splash out big time, with ridiculous yellow leaves in avenues, falling as I cycle under them in the sunshine that makes me squint. The way they fall seems impossible. It makes me laugh. As if the world were upside down or sideways. Who or what is falling, here, Autumn?

Some days the yellow of the leaves makes the grey sky glow ultra-violet purple.

I’ve got to know the streets now of Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg; their particular trees. I’ve got my eye on them: which ones will soon be bare, and which streets have yet to turn even yellow. I’ve mapped them on my bike. I’m counting, and am heartened to reckon we’ve got another three weeks in some avenues. I’m soaking it up with my eyes. I’m saving up the colour, making sure I’m there to witness it, making sure I’m part of the action. I’m planning a Novel-writing coffee in Kollwitzstrasse next week, (and maybe an Apfelstrudel – strictly novel-related of course) because I think it’ll be about tip top right then.

When I asked my daughter, who is now two, what she wanted at her (September) birthday party, she had two requests. “Icecream cake” and “Acorns”. We gathered a thousand acorns and conkers and the kids poured them from bucket to box. I think she asked for them because she remembered them from a walk we did around a lake a few weeks before – my last wild swim of the year, I fear – when, as we sat on the bank in a ray of sunshine with our sandwiches, we were treated to the plomp! plomp! plomp! of the acorns falling into the clear shallow water.

Who or what is falling, here, Autumn?

Well, I know you’re off soon. It’s been nice having you visit again. Gruelling sometimes, as visitors can be, but you’ve been pretty generous all told. I won’t forget you. Come and see us again next year.

love, Laura