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In Defence of Autumn

Stephanie Johnston explains why Autumn deserves more credit than it gets.

Defending autumn is, I’ll concede, a tad unusual. Most people prefer the warm embrace of summer, the optimism of spring or the festivities of winter. As a result, we tend to overlook autumn, condemning it as a period of slow decay and encroaching darkness as the clocks roll back and the wooly jumpers roll out.

But, as I will now illuminate for you all (you’re welcome), autumn does have its perks, not least the autumnal weather. Although the darkening evenings and increasingly limited sunlight is, for some, a negative development, for anyone who isn’t affected by these seasonal changes, the shift in weather may be a good thing. It provides a chance to feel cosy, to come home after a full day of dodging the Scottish drizzle, pull on the fluffy socks and commit to an evening in with a Tim Burton film and some apple-pie scented candles. 

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Autumn walks are another unbeatable feature of this season. Living in St Andrews, we are routinely blessed with a veritable smorgasbord of scenic routes to wander along, and each season lends its own charm to these. But nothing can compare to the leaf-laden Lade Braes in early October, the puddles scattered along the Scores throughout September or the chill in the air as you stand watching the waves crash into West Sands while standing safely bundled up on the golf course above it. Speaking of clothes, autumn fashion certainly deserves a shout out of its own in this defense of my favourite season. When you aren’t restricted by trying to choose clothes which won’t make you overheat (not that I’m entirely familiar with this problem, having lived 21 years in Scotland), you have much more opportunity to express yourself in your clothing. Coats, scarves, jumpers, layers, gloves, earmuffs, boots, we love them all and there is no better chance to show off your style than right before the winter weather well and truly sets in.

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Autumn also lends itself to new food, moving away from “light bites” of summer and into as many usages of “cinnamon” as is humanly possible. Between the pumpkin spice lattes, cinnamon buns and pumpkin pies proliferating in the shops, it is clear that retail is determined to shove autumn down our throats – and they’ll hear no complaints from me.

But the best part of autumn is indisputably the holidays. For the Americans among us, and their piggy-backing Scottish friends, Thanksgiving is an excellent testimony to the aforementioned “fall food”. For me, however, Halloween is the reigning champion of the holidays (for reasons entirely independent of the fact that it coincides with my birthday). Halloween means toffee apples, doughnuts and cheap chocolate. It is an excuse to dress up or dress down, to get in touch with your creative side with makeup, fancy dress, pumpkin carving and experimentation with tenuously “spooky” themed cocktails on any given night. For all of these reasons, I am committed to defending autumn until the last brown leaf falls from the trees, and probably for some time after that.

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