Autumn came in copper-coloured bursts of death. Strong winds, unusually so, swept aside the last vestiges of summer and heralded the rusting beauty that was the-season-between, as my Grandma used to call it.
The sycamore trees loosed their long-lobed leaves in fluttering windmills coating the concrete streets in colours they did not deserve. Horse chestnuts, unwilling to be arboreal bystanders, cast aside the conkers that congregated like punk apples to make a general nuisance of themselves on the ground. Most people were frustrated by their lackadaisical distribution, here, there and everywhere except into the waiting children’s plastic carrier bags. Even the dogs, those most unfussy of footpath meanderers, grew wearisome of avoiding their prickled hiding places. Regardless, the season moved on.
The seeds were set for an autumn to end all autumns, where copper and rust, claret and ochre, would rule the landscape for the foreseeable future without a moment’s pause.
I watched it though the eyes of a child with an intensity bordering on manic. An early autumn meant only one thing in my mind: snow would be with us soon.
Weeks of looking up at leaden skies, kicking at piles of leaves in the hope it might usher on the next seasonal cycle, availed nothing. My snow did not come and I went on waiting. I took to walking out on evenings when the air was cool and the chance of fluttering lace was greater. All I got was one tired looking owl and a rat with an attitude. Perhaps there would be no winter and the-season-between would have to be renamed.
My morbidity increased with every changing day, October moving swiftly to November, and then December beyond. And that’s when it happened.
I’d sat on a wall with my eyes on a streetlight that flickered with such annoyance as to be hypnotic. When at last I peeled myself away from my tangerine vision, I had a guest. There on my arm sat something white. I breathed out the breath I’d held and examined the little geometric oddity. Lonesome and deserted by its kin, the snowflake, for indeed that’s what it was, refused to melt until it had been acknowledged. I raised my arm and gave it a shake, but the snowflake remained. Removing a warming glove, I gave it a prod with my fingernail; light as a feather and twice as pure the snowflake nudged along my jacket sleeve. I smiled.
The heavens opened then, the snow falling like cherry blossom on a windy day. I lingered outside when all others had hurried indoors to sit by warm fires or stare from behind steamed windows. Nothing would drag me away from my winter visitors. I realised then, as autumn was banished for good and spring put on standby that the weight of my wait had been worth it, for the lightness of the moment made my soul sing. It would do so again many, many more times, at least, I wished so.