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Autumn: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons

por Melissa Harrison (Editor)

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This collection captures the unfolding of autumn.

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As the world turns once again on the equinox, nights draw in, the sunshine from summer has been converted into nature’s bounty, mist rolls over fields and a new smell permeates the sharper mornings. Gone are the acid greens of spring and deeper shades of summer, now we have leaves turning rich reds, bold yellows and mellow browns. The swallows who arrived early summer, zoom across the fields one final time before leaving for Africa. Autumn has arrived.

Just seconds ago I was in a concrete jungle, but now I stand surrounded by damp earth, wood and October’s sepia tones – Will Harper-Penrose

So begins the final book in this series of seasons that I have read. Melissa Harrison has again gathered together a fine collection of classic prose and poetry as well as the current stalwarts of our rich seam of nature writing in the UK. Most importantly is bringing to our attention the newest authors and writers who seek their inspiration from their own patch of the natural world. To be honest, they are all good, but there are a few that are outstanding, in particular, Jane Adams, Will Harper-Penrose and Megan Shersby. I am hoping that the chance that all these authors have had to appear in print will pay off in abundance in years to come. If you want a book to read that has those evocative smells and the whiff of bonfire then this is absolutely perfect. Great little book, another beautiful cover and a cracking series. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
You couldn't mistake which season this book is about as the writing is so colourful that it could only be Autumn. I've previously read the hopeful new beginnings of Spring and the warm lazy days of Summer so naturally the clear crisp days of Autumn would follow.

Autumn is another anthology published in conjunction with The Wildlife Trusts, so purchasing this book contributes to a worthy cause. Autumn is often chosen as the favourite season for many people, myself included, and this anthology clearly tells us why we think so fondly of Autumn. The changing colour of the leaves, the frantic scurrying of the hedgehogs and the crisp frosty mornings all warn us that Winter is coming.

In this anthology, there are some notable works from modern day authors and wildlife lovers. I am always surprised to find out who has written each piece and, although there are some classics such as Dylan Thomas, George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, I thought that the modern day wildlife lovers really shone through in this anthology. I especially enjoyed reading about badger spotting by Alex Francis, invasion of dormice by Jane Adams, blackberry picking by Tamsin Constable, dolphin spotting by Lucy McRobert and salmon jumping by Megan Shersby. The piece that really stood out for me and epitomised Autumn was written by Louise Baker. Louise is the grandaughter of a naturalist and I believe that she captured Autumn perfectly in her short piece. I've chosen a few lines from Louise Baker's piece below, it really is magnificent and captures the essence of Autumn perfectly.

Autumn is bold bursts of colour...
Autumn is a dappled night sky peppered with stars...
Autumn is the crunch of leaves...
Autumn is the snuffle of hedgehogs...

Autumn is an anthology that you can dip and out of, but I found that once I got started I was intrigued to see what surprise was in store for me over the page. It is full of vibrant colour and sound as nature starts to preserve its inimitable energy of regeneration to survive the harsh winter that is to come. Autumn is a stunning anthology that perfectly captures this most beloved of seasons.

I chose to read and ARC of Autumn and this is my honest and unbiased opinion. ( )
  Michelle.Ryles | Mar 9, 2020 |
‘’After all, autumn is the natural world’s gentle memento mori; it’s when the year’s cycle begins to slow as spring’s generative energy and summer’s riotous fruition at last start to fail, prompted by shorter days, falling temperatures and the need shared by so many living things for a period of quietude and senescence.’’

What is it that makes us love autumn so much? Is it the crispy mornings after the thick, suffocating humidity and blinding sunshine of our summers that become hotter and hotter by the year? Is it the dress that nature chooses to wear, painted in shades of brown and yellow and red? The sound of the leaves, the wind that makes the trees whisper to each other? The apples and the pumpkins? The atmosphere of mysticism brought by Bonfire Night and the ruler of festivities, the Halloween season, when we love to get scared? All these you will find in this collection dedicated to the beloved season and edited by Melissa Harrison.

‘’Autumn in New York. Autumn in Rome, Paris, London: the great cities might be made for the seasons, their towers of lights shining for longer as the months roll darker, and in the cooling mornings the sweet and smoky smells.’’

Certainly, there are some cities that seem to be made for autumn, but this is a season to be enjoyed by those of us who live in a big metropolis and the fortunate people who reside in a rural area. In this beautiful collection, you will experience autumn in the Highlands, in Shetland, in North Yorkshire, in London, in Dublin and Cork, with brief visits to Berlin that flourishes in late September.

‘’There is a distinct smell in the air now that I haven’t smelt for almost a year. It’s hard to locate exactly- I don’t know if it’s the damp rotting wood, the overripe fruit, or the moss that’s growing more brightly and more densely as it soaks up the rain.’’

Walk among the birches and the oaks. Don’t forget to take a look at the fungi lurking by your feet. Smell the apples. Be careful not to disturb the proud stags, the badgers and the sweet squirrels. When dusk descends, ‘’the time of mauve and moonlight, of shapeshiftings and stirrings, of magic,’’ a moment of enchantment in every season, crows may fly somewhere near, heralding the rising of the Harvest Moon. And if you decide to take a walk in the moorland, owls await.

September, the melancholic month, when we begin to realise that another summer has ended. October, the quintessential autumn month, the most beautiful month of the year. November, the herald of winter, the month that calls for Christmas thoughts. Horatio Clare has written a beautiful ode to autumn through the eyes of an educator. The feeling of autumn in the city, the way the air changes. Written with tenderness and a small dose of melancholy. Caroline Greville writes a beautiful passage on the changing of nature. There is a rather melancholic text on the sadness of September by Nick Acheson, an extract from H Is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Poem In October by the great Dylan Thomas, The Stag by Ted Hughes and November by John Clare. The Wild Swans at Coole, one of my favourite poems by William Butler Yeats. The two texts I loved the most was a passage by Louise Baker containing the most beautiful description of autumn I’ve ever read:
‘’It is thick, sticky mud and the stains on your boots, the glow of a candle within a deep orange pumpkin, and the flurry of birds that come to feed in your garden. Stand bathed in the in the glow of a bonfire and watch fireworks dance across a deep purple sky.’’

And an atmospheric text on All Hallow’s Eve and autumnal ghosts by Sinéad Gleeson:

‘’The wind rushes through hundreds of branches, a hypnotic symphony reassuring and eerie all at once. The dark nights roll in with Halloween and, in the forest’s charcoal depths, it’s hard to ignore the supernatural, Watcher in the Woods feel. The hills and trees are spooky in the evening gloam.’’

This collection, edited by Melissa Harrison, is like autumn itself. Atmospheric, cozy, melancholic, hypnotic, beautiful….

‘’Autumn is an adventure, a season of transformation, and a time to prepare for the long winter ahead. It is a thousand leaves falling to the ground and nourishing the soil beneath; it is heavy rainfalls that catch you off guard and drive you to shelter; it is the refreshing winds that sweep the haze of summer away; it is the calm before the storm.’’

My reviews can also be found on: https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Oct 4, 2018 |
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This collection captures the unfolding of autumn.

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