Autumn sunshine is the most precious.

After the long days of summer peter out, as sunlight gets shorter and darkness gradually makes up more of the day – a minute or two more a day, slowly but surely – and the gusting winds and days of rain begin to hint at the encroaching winter, the autumn light is the one you don’t want to waste.

In the spring, you have months of warmth to look forward to. Forgoing time out of doors doesn’t mean much, as the days are getting longer and warmer and there is the promise of heat and light and bliss for as far as you care to cast your eyes forward. Flowers are blooming. Shorts and t-shirts make their way back into your wardrobe cycles. You begin to think of shedding your winter weight and whiteness, dreaming of a tan. Giving up a day in the spring doesn’t seem like waste.

As summer hits, nobody thinks of the approaching cool and cold. A time of beaches and bikinis and barbecues and beer, summers seem to stretch forever. You want to be in the sun every day, but if you waste a day, it doesn’t matter much – there’s always tomorrow.

That vibe isn’t the same in autumn. After the solstice, as days get shorter and cooler, the sun begins to retreat sooner. The daylight is half gone by the time you wake, and it’s even a cold shivering sort of heat. The sun is now a lamp not a heater, giving light but little warmth.

It is why autumn sunshine is the most precious. That FOMO, that feeling you have to make the most of what little natural warmth is left, to wring each degree Celsius from the year before we retreat into full winter mode and unearth the coats and beanies and scarves from the back of the closet. We don’t expect much from autumn. It can’t seem to make up its mind. Not as cold as winter, nowhere near enough to shorts and thongs weather, but when the sun pokes out on rare occasion, it’s a time to make it count. We trudge out and force ourselves to enjoy picnics and beach walks and parks, because god knows when the next warm day might be – maybe not until September or so.

It’s when you haven’t got much, that you begin to appreciate what you actually have. In summer, we’re spoilt. We can waste days and light and heat. In the autumn, as we wind down toward the dead season, we can’t be too picky. So it is that the autumn sunshine is the most precious, because it’s the last we’re likely to see for some time.


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