Wake Up and Smell The Autumn

24 March 2017 Lorin Clarke

Wake Up and Smell The Autumn

Autumn is such a gently paced, gorgeously pitched collage of all that is lovely about the world. It’s also the perfect season for sad and complicated things. For break-ups and breakdowns. For staring out the window and enjoying a quiet melancholy. For sneezing into your elbow by accident on public transport because you’re not quite prepared for that time of year yet. Seeped in a kind of sad nostalgia, autumn looks lovely, but is almost lost. But these conditions can be a thoroughly enjoyable study of the things that make up the world around you. Put your study specs on.

Study birds in flight. Do they realise how well they read the mood of the evening, dancing to the beat of a dwindling day? Is there one bird calling the shots or is it a matter of feeling the choreography and not overthinking things?

Study the falling of dusk. Finished with the slow fades of summer, autumn takes the day and breathes darkness onto it like condensation on a window.

Watch the little orange squares of light that are other people’s lounge rooms ping onto the black canvas.

Smell the air for chimney smoke and other people’s dinner and wet ground and tree bark.

Notice the top third. Not the ground. Not the people you walk past or the signs designed to grab your attention. Notice the tops of the tallest trees. The telephone wires snaking through the streets. The tops of people’s houses. That’s where the history hides.

Contemplate the word brainstorm.

Study the perfect simplicity of the hot chocolate.

Study the lovely incongruities born of the human pretence of formality, like the man in the queue for a coffee in the middle of the city the other day wearing a suit and bouncing a tennis ball lightly against the bottom of the outside wall like a kid at recess, all the other eyes in the queue going down, up, down, up.

Concentrate on tiny, contemporary moments of levity and absurdity, like when a bloke rides a bike past you and you realise he is carrying a mattress under one arm like he might just bed down anywhere.

Enjoy, for a moment, the curious, blind, hungry enthusiasm of a dog in a new bit of park

Concentrate on the mental leaps of logic your brain performs for you on a daily basis, like when you’re out walking and you see someone emerge from a side street but you know, from the way they’re holding their body, from their pace, from the way they twist sideways slightly, that a child or a small dog is also about to emerge from behind them.

Concentrate on out-of-season things. A suburban swimming pool on a cold morning, steam rising up from the blue. Bare feet, but with a jumper. Sea spray on your face in the rain.

Regard, for a moment, the mutual generosity of spirit in the giving and receiving of nicknames.

Enjoy the persistence of contextually surprising book reading. Someone reading a book while walking for 10 points. Reading a book in a bar for five. At a sports match for 20.

Contemplate the paddle-steamer, lazily cartwheeling through thick water while people on deck drink cask wine and look at the sunset.

Remember the last time you gasped at human ability. The circus? A documentary about the building of a railway? Yesterday at work?

Listen. For what? Who knows! The life-affirming eavesdropping that is overhearing a snippet of conversation between friends, maybe. The kind of singing that happens when you walk past a stranger and they don’t think you can hear. A familiar tune made tinny in someone else’s headphones.

Keep an eye out for leaves. Crunchy ones. Sunset leaves. Skeletons. Leaves that have pimples and bends.

Enjoy your autumn. It’s not difficult to do. Maybe you have a cold and too much work to do and maybe it’s not summer and it’s not winter and maybe you’re not on a paddle-steamer in years gone by. But you’re here! Well done! Enjoy it.
This has been a public service announcement.

Lorin Clarke (@lorinimus) is a Melbourne-based writer and co-host of the Stupidly Small Podcast.

This article first appeared in Ed#533 of The Big Issue