September always feels like the real start of autumn. Even though the end of August in Scotland is definitely cool enough to be classed as autumn, it’s still the start of September that heralds the change of seasons.

September is the orange-and-yellow month, the conkers-and-toadstools month, the (hopefully) crisp-air-and-sunny-skies month.

But it’s 2020 and we’re in uncharted territory, so somehow everything feels a bit different, doesn’t it? But autumn, the old season of mists and mellow fruitfulness (and by fruitfulness I like to think Keats actually meant CRUMBLE),  does autumn feel different because of ongoing restrictions, or is it really because summer as we know it never really happened this year?

Autumn (After the sort-of Summer)

 THE AUTUMN RESET

Autumn has long been recognised as a time of new starts and positive change: the new academic year begins and there’s a sense of resetting and beginning afresh after the summer. But this year though… This interminable year when the world stopped for a while, and when so many of the ways that we mark the passing of summer were off the table.

Long-awaited holidays and travels, end-of-school trips and summer camps, graduations and weddings, music and arts festivals, big summer cinema releases, the Olympics, Wimbledon. These are some of our summer standards.

Not this year.

This was the year of the sort-of summer.

 THE SORT-OF SUMMER WAS SORT-OF FUN

In the sort-of summer, we still enjoyed warm weather and we still sat in the sun. But mostly we did it in our gardens and local parks, and we did it in small groups. And if we were planning to enjoy a larger, hotter version of that sun on a foreign holiday, we most likely didn’t get to do that. We travelled less far and less often.

In the sort-of summer, the kids were off school, but as they’d been off school since March the novelty had long worn off.

In the sort-of summer, we saw sports take place behind closed doors, and cultural events move online.

And in the end, mostly because the sort-of summer came directly after the spring-of-nope-no-way-definitely-not, then it was sort-of ok.

And now? Well, with the arrival of autumn, some normality has returned. Kids are back in school. More things are open. But we know that Winter Is Coming, in the most Game of Thrones sense, so let’s enjoy autumn’s sort-of normal. I’m off to kick the leaves in the low sunshine and look for conkers.