What does autumn mean to you? To some, I suppose, it means the end of something warm and happy. Perhaps the end of summer holidays or the end of shorts weather. It might make you think of the autumn of one’s life, impending finality or even slight regret. I have never looked at autumn this way. Because, although I love summer and all it has to offer, there’s something special about the final explosion of colour before winter comes. Woolen jumpers and sheepskin boots feel like soft hugs in the chill air. Creamy squashes and jammy plums fill our plates and the heady aromas of spices that defined my childhood like cinnamon and nutmeg float through the air like memories. My children ask for more cuddles and even my cat begins to take refuge on my warm lap in the evenings once again. The build up to Halloween has always filled me with delight; scary films watched whist sitting in front of the fire, spooky trails through the woods, pumpkin picking and Trick or Treating. And then Bonfire Night with all the roasted chestnuts you can eat washed down with mulled wine. Thanksgiving follows and although I don’t live in the USA anymore, why on earth not celebrate it and give thanks for all the year behind and things to come. And finally Christmas enters (usually well before Thanksgiving) like an explosion of cheer in red and green, with full permission to nibble on mince pies and gingerbread and sip on glasses of Port and hot chocolate. We smile at sweet memories of all the Christmases past as Bing Crosby croons softly in the background. It ends on New Year’s Eve with dropping balls and fireworks and fresh starts. And please excuse me if I am a little quiet, wistful or glassy eyed. I will be thinking on these things that I truly love to get me through the time of year when my precious Dad was taken from me.