This entry is prompt #4 of The Book of Me, Written by You project.
The prompt for week 4 is Favourite Season (s)Why?A Happy Memory.
The first season that springs to mind when asked for a favourite is autumn. I love the colours of autumn – the rich browns and oranges and yellows of the leaves changing colour. There's something so dramatic and stirring about watching the trees change from a fairly uniform shade of green to the rainbow mix of an autumnal palette. And I have fond memories of autumn too. As a child I used to visit Bentley Priory woods quite often with my my mum and brother. We'd sometimes go in late summer, when the blackberries were fat and ripe on the bushes, but more often we'd go in autumn. I loved to walk though the ankle-deep blanket of fallen leaves that covered the ground, kicking the crisp foliage up with my feet and watching the golden colours fall back to earth. My brother and I would run through the dense woodland searching for conkers – one year we found hundreds and came home with pockets and carrier bags full of them. One of my strongest childhood memories actually comes from one of those autumnal visits to Bentley Priory. We were at the bus stop, waiting to go home, when a van pulled into the layby. The driver got out and threw open the back doors and smoke billowed out, followerd by the intense orange heat of flames. I don't know how the fire started, or what happened next – I assume a fire engine was called, or the driver had a fire extinguisher, but I have no memory of that at all. I just remember the sense of fear that flooded through me as I saw the flames seeping from the back of that van. It was the beginning of a deep fear of fire that stayed with me long into adulthood.
So autumn is one of my favourite seasons, but I also love spring, even more so since I moved to the country. In London I never really noticed the seasons, not properly. Of course I was aware that we'd slipped from one to another because there was a nip in the air or the evenings were staying lighter, longer, but that was as far as my awareness of the changing of the seasons went. Out here in the countryside you can't escape the changes. The bleak days of winter seem to last forever, the trees black and barren, until you finally spot the tiniest sign that spring is on the way – perhaps a bud on a tree, or the slight greening of the hedgerow alongside the road. The next few weeks are exciting as the landscape is reborn, flowers bursting into colour, trees exploding into leaf, bushes and hedges turning slowly from black to brown to yellow to vivid green as they wake from the colder months. I don't have any one memory linked to spring, but I do look forward to seeing those first signs of life after yet another cold dark winter.
And then there's winter itself, and of course my memories are mainly filled wth snow. Living in England we don't get a lot of snow but when we do it always seems to have such a major effect on life that it lingers in the mind far longer than it should. There are photos of me pottering around in the snow when I was about 3, asking my dad to “make a 'nowman” but I have no recollection of that particular snow fall. I do remember, however, another year when there was heavy snow and my dad disappeared into the shed and came out with a hand-built sledge. As a family we went up to one of the slopes of Harrow-on-the-Hill (for we lived at the bottom of the hill) and spent an afternoon whizzing back down on this little wooden sledge. Even Mum and Dad had a go – there are photos to prove it! We did very little together as a family of four – Dad's unsociable working hours meant we were often more like a single parent family – so doing something together like this was a rarity, and it's a very precous memory. And there are a few more snowy moments that I can remember – getting a lift into work with my landlord, stepping out of his car and finding the snow came to my knees. Opening the front door to discover our neighbour had ditched his car and come home in the work tractor because of the snow. Sledging with the kids in George V Park and nearly crashing into a lamp post. Having Steve stay for a few days early in our relationship because the icy road meant he couldn't get his sporty car up the hill to the main road. Taking the kids sledging down Folly Hill and them spending most of their time sitting on some plastic sheeting and sliding down a tiny slope. Watching our white cat explore a snowy garden and realising that while he's totally white, he's not actually Snow White – and there are different shades of white. Lots and lots of happy snowy memories.