It’s the last days of August: September is nearly here,and thoughts are turning naturally to the last third of the year.
I know that we in Britain live in a country with four seasons, but sometimes I feel we only actually have three: The Months Before Christmas, The Months After Christmas and The Months When You Can’t Really Mention Christmas Without People Looking At You Funny. Actually, I think those seasons would work, if only because they remove any association of the season to weather. We wouldn’t think to ourselves “Summer means Sun and Heat and Seaside” or (that foolish hope) “Winter means Cold and Snow” when really both can mean a chilly and wet sludge of a day, enlightened only by the use of tonnes of candles and a decent cup of tea at the end.
In fact, the only seasons I’d mostly keep intact are Spring and Autumn. I’d make them flexible, though, so that Spring could be any time between February and June according to local weather conditions and number of flowers/animals/insects you see, while Autumn would fill in any free space between August and December that wasn’t taken up by Christmas.
Both Spring and Autumn are seasons of great promise, full of change and hope. Spring’s hope is probably more obvious, with new buds and baby animals all over the place. Personally, I find Autumn is a more alluring creature.
Autumn promises fruitfulness, enclosed in a colour palette that is striking but not ostentatious. Its colours are jewels set in a sea of gold, the atmosphere alters our perception, so that light is softer, heat is elusive and everything enfolds us in the knowledge that time is fleeting and we should make the most of it. Actually, at 49 I am becoming increasingly aware with every year that time is fleeting and I should make the most of it.
After the outside hygge of summer, with ice creams by the sea, drinks in the garden and endless days spent outside, Autumn finds our hygge moving in for the most part. It’s a season of new starts at school and work after the holidays, and very often a season of invigoration in the home as well. I sometimes think we should have a tradition of Autumn Cleaning as well as Spring Cleaning, after the children have gone to school and you try to get some semblance of routine and organisation back into the place.
I’ll leave the lists of housework organising to you: here, today, I give to you my Autumn Hygge list. A simple list of the things I want to get done before December. Some of them are outside activities, others very much happen when the door is shut and the lights turned down low. I hope you enjoy reading them, as much as I’ve enjoyed thinking them up.
- Collect conkers and acorns to display in a wooden bowl at the front door.
- Find one perfect twig of oak tree with leaves and acorns still on and display on the mantelpiece.
- Channel Martha Stewart and try to preserve some of the best leaves using glycerin.
- Collect a few more pillar candles and hurricane jars on the fireplace.
- Find (or rediscover) a new tea for Autumn. I am still in love with Gingerbread Chai by Bluebird Tea Co. Made in my owl tea infuser and served with a little milk, it’s lovely.
- Visit an arboretum to see the trees. Or just visit the local park to watch the leaves show their true colours.
- Adopt a local tree and visit it once a week. Take a photo at the same time each week to plot the change over the next few weeks.
- When the sun shines, ditch a few plans and get out for a coffee or a tea. Wrap up warm, and enjoy the sunshine when you can.
- Walk everyday, whatever the weather. The new government guidelines are that a brisk 10 minute walk a day makes enough difference. That’s less than a mile: anyone can do that!
- Get together with friends and plan an evening, or two, of frugal fun. Get together in a house, bring food, beer and a couple of board games and spend the evening playing together by candlelight. There’s a Game of Thrones Risk out that’s actually fun to play, and might stave off the sadness until the final season in 2019. Winter is Here.
- Swap summer cushions for woolly winter ones, and put out your warm throws.
- Buy some new school pencils and display in a pot or vase for a seasonal alternative to flowers. I love the stripes of Staedtler, but the economy of these Just Stationery ones cannot be denied. And bouquets of pencils always makes me think of You’ve Got Mail.
- Talking of You’ve Got Mail, collect a few Autumn or Fall movies together in a basket by your TV and set a date to sit and watch them on cooler, wetter Sunday afternoons. You’ve Got Mail has to be one of them, along with When Harry Met Sally. I’d also add Dead Poets Society, Practical Magic and a recommendation new to me this year, Dan in Real Life. Buzzfeed have a list of 23 Autumn or Fall movies for you to enjoy as well.
- Add to that basket a bar of really nice chocolate, flavoured or not; a pretty notebook and pen; some beautiful letter paper or notecards; a pack of pretty tissues and a book, either a new and much anticipated one, or an old favourite to revisit. Voila! An Autumn Comfort Basket. Everything you need for an afternoon of rest and relaxation in the Fall. (I might come back to that for a blogpost later on, when I’ve made my own Autumn Comfort Basket!)
- Get the slow cooker out and make a stew. Make chilli one week, a pork casserole the next or rice pudding one day just for fun.
- Bake with apples. I have a recipe for Grandma’s Apple Cake copied off a website that I am desperate to make one weekend (with apologies: I haven’t actually recorded the name of the website!) or I do a mean apple crumble with no recipe whatsoever, because my Nana taught me how to do the crumble topping and my hands are cold enough to make it well.
- Visit a Farmer’s Market or Farm Shop and buy a couple of squash or pumpkins to use as decoration. Save this task until the end of October and make a lantern from them as well! Beautiful designs for pumpkin lanterns can be found on Pinterest.
- Either start or continue with a Fall project. Choose your craft and get started on it! Do you like crochet? Start a blanket in the colours of the season. Are you an artist? Paint the trees. Better with your hands? Whittle with wood, mould with clay or make something. This year I am pressing on with my Hygge shawl. It will be finished eventually. And when I’m not doing that, I’m making sort-of hexagons for a blanket.
- Change the scents in your house. Get out the apple scented candles, use vodka, distilled water and add drops of your favourite Autumn smells to make a room spray. I love 10 drops of green apple essential oil with 5 drops of cinnamon.
- Rest, relax, enjoy.
There you go, my Autumn and Fall Hygge list. Have I missed anything essential off? Let me know below.
I’m also reposting the Autumn Hygge infographic I shared last week, as well as my hand-drawn Autumn wishlist. Let me know if you’ve got an Autumn Hygge list, and what’s an essential for you. I’d love to see how they’re different or the same!
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