It was unusual this year because it happened on a Sunday. A Sunday morning too. In November, which is normal. But it always happens on a Saturday afternoon after football. Not on a Sunday morning when I’m playing golf. A Saturday afternoon. In November. When I go to watch football with my friends. We are old now and in the autumn of our years. We drink endless cups of tea, make jokes and laugh at the world because for that moment in our week we are indestructibly young again. We shout our support for our team and our criticisms at the referee. Win, lose or draw we tell each other how much differently we would have played the game, even demonstrating imagined body swerves and light touches of the ball to each other as we shuffle to the car park at the end of the game.
And it’s when I’m driving home, listening to the other football results on the radio that it happens. It’s that time in the afternoon when the sky is going purple and the leafless trees form black shadows on the horizon and birds go about their business in the fading light.
Sometimes I see it in the distance and I push my foot hard on the accelerator to get there faster. Sometimes I don’t see it and it just envelopes me by surprise. This year, it caught me by surprise and on a Sunday morning. Twice the unexpected.
Sunday morning is when I play golf, when we wrap up warm against the cold wind and when Gary tells his jokes and when Stevie Double offers us all a sweet which he always does as we come of the 7th green. And that’s when it happened this year.
Because it was unexpected, it had an unfamiliar feel at first. Then I tasted it. I closed my eyes for a moment. What a moment this is. A moment of remembering all the sights and sounds of lady summer just gone, her power and beauty given up in the fruits and seeds at harvest time.
And now, at last, she falls asleep in the shades of autumn, surrendering herself to the flames and lingering only in the fragrant, sweet smoke from a million garden bonfires.