Simple Living: An ode to autumn

Simple Living: An ode to autumn

Do you get a little bewildered at this time of year? I feel we must have time travelled.  Summer is dropping away by the hour and the darker evenings are starting to creep in. Surely, the seasons can’t be changing already? I’ve only just come to terms with spring being over.

That said, autumn brings its own charm. It reaffirms some of my favourite things about simple living. As the season shifts, life begins to slow. The leaves start dropping from the trees and the outside world becomes quieter. It’s full of little moments to appreciate, as nature prepares for her winter slumber.

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

– Fall, leaves, fall – Emily Brontë

It won’t be long until the scent of woodsmoke is sweetly lingering over the towpath, as the chimneys reawaken in each floating home. For me, the joy of living a slower, simpler, lifestyle comes from consciously relishing everyday actions. Lighting a fire is the perfect example.

In the colder months, the stove is the heart of the narrowboat. It provides warmth and often a hot meal too. Once lit, we’re usually never without a stew or dal whispering away on the wood burner.

The actual ritual of layering thin slithers of kindling around a homemade firelighter is as mindful as it is practical. There’s something about striking a match, nurturing a flame and hearing the spit and crackle, that becomes quite hypnotic. It feels real and is a thousand times more satisfying than clicking on a central heating system.

“Notice that autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

Autumn is a funny period. I can’t help but feel slight anxiety over the impending winter. Although, without a doubt, it is the most beautiful time of year. If you can stomach it, the best way to consciously mark the new season is by savouring an early start.

The air is still and crisp, but often glowing in the fresh autumnal sunshine. The canal feels even more special. There’s often there’s a thin veil of mist lingering over the surface of the water. Your senses heighten. It’s best enjoyed with a piping hot drink, allowing you to relish the early calm; whilst setting some intentions for that day between sips.

Arguably, the best thing about heading into the colder months is that hearty food returns. Soup becomes bearable again and the thought of pie and mash is irresistible.

Plus, each trip to the greengrocer or farmers’ market is like a voyage of discovery. Squash season is upon us… With so many varieties of gourd, there are always a few that look as though they’ve descended from another planet. Yes Turk’s Turban, I’m looking at you. Their colours and flavours fill your mind with autumnal splendour.

I do feel that living on canals brings a new appreciation for the different times of the year. You notice the shift more readily. The energy of the world outside slows, it quietens and relaxes after the pomp of summer. It is a time to relish and an opportunity to take stock. You know that winter is in speedy pursuit. As nature winds down, it’s only right to take an extra moment. Reflect on the glory of summer and prepare for chunky-knit jumpers and cosy warm fires.

Jack Miles
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