It’s December, cold and windy, and fallen leaves adorn the frosty streets amidst the traffic of pedestrians, tightly cocooned in their furs and thick clothing. What was formerly luscious and vivid shrubbery is now a mass of weakly twigs and brittle remnants of foliage. Instead of a cocktail of flowers in bloom, freshly mown grass and barbecues, the nose is greeted by gusts of wind, a smoky sense of nothingness and a waft of bratwurst and weisswurst.
Being neither in the depths of winter, nor the late reaches of summer, this barren nothingness is not a season, merely a progression from the feted golden season to the long-awaited festive season. Between the summer and its more frigid counterpart is this drab and depressing period of anticipation for that which is to come; the time of worrying how great an impact the weather will have during the midwinter, the time for long days and little reward, and the time for wishing the ensuing months closer, and the foregone months nearer once they have ended.
This barren nothingness is not a season. It is a period. A period for re-evaluation, planning and hard graft for relatively little pleasure or joy. All students are aware of the notoriety of the ‘autumn term’, a conglomerate of work aplenty and little energy or motivation to execute it.
Winston Churchill’s ‘autumn’ was not perennially occurring, in political terms. His time of despondancy came in the early 1930s, cast out of the inner political fold and warning of the National Socialist menace using the precedent of history in the form of Louis XIV. Politicians, diplomats and journalists, eager for peace and co-operation with Germany, were more disinclined to exclude Churchill for these ardent warnings. Although his literary sidelines never left him devoid of funds, he was frustrated with the barren political years ahead of him prior to his eventual re-instatement. Unlike us, he did not know the ‘winter’ was coming until very soon before; the months preceding the war, although serious and frightening, represented a magnificent comeback from which Churchill never again declined.
Unlike the title from the musical version of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, there is no such thing as “Forever Autumn”. Although this bleak period succeeds summer, the time of optimism and metaphorical sunshine, there remains the festivities and jollities of winter in the near future, although this must needs encompass a little environmental hardship therewith. It is not permanent; it will end. And whilst autumn yields to winter, with challenges aplenty in its own way, the arrival of soft pure snow and colourful illuminations fill the time with activity, excitement and festive rewards for the months of strife in the barren nothingness.