October 20th, 1997.

When the autumn comes.

It's mid-October, and it's already dark when I travel home from work in the evening. The weather has become more aggressive and the need to arm oneself against the cold and rain is once again upon us. In the mornings I can see my breath and hear the distant horn of a buoy on the docks warning the ships of some hazard in the hanging mist. For these brief few weeks, the sunsets will appear to be made of gold before the sharper, colder, pale blues and whites dig in until next spring. The winters here don't really get serious until January, but from now until then the short days will taunt me with what's to come. I don't like the winter, I never have.

Some say that this is the best time of year. They attach some sort of romance to the golden brown leaves that carpet the ground and crunch below our footsteps. As an image, the idea of autumn is fine with me, but as a reality, it is anything but the picture postcard. Autumn is the end of the year for me. When it's time to finish work the street lamps are already on and as you ride home on the train trying to avoid eye contact with the other commuters trying to avoid eye contact with you, you know that the day is gone.

After you have made something to eat the warmth of your house seems a lot more attractive than the thought of venturing out into the cold uninviting darkness of a street that seems a whole lot more threatening than it did a month ago. And if you do go out, you’re on your way somewhere rather than on a journey. Travel in the winter nights becomes more about 'getting there' than 'going there'.

These shortened days make me almost sad. It's almost like for the winter months the world becomes smaller and a sense of claustrophobia creeps in as Jack Frost becomes my jailer. I make myself all sorts of promises at this time of year. "This time next year I'll be somewhere else", "This time next year I'll have a car", "This time next year I live in the country". But the time between this year and next seems to get shorter every time, and in the increasing sense of urgency with the pressing rush to get things done, somehow less is achieved. So I'm left to say the same old promises in my head when the autumn comes this time next year.

Who knows though, maybe the autumn next year this will be different. Maybe that winter won't seem so cold and dark? I hope so. Until then I'll wrap up warm, put my head down, and try to avoid eye contact with all the other commuters hurrying back to their hot meals and central heating. I don't want to wish my time away, but as I pull my scarf close around my neck and draw my shoulders in against the wind I'm looking forward to those welcome sunny days ahead.