No, that’s not a typo. It’s a word I found recently that’s quite perfect to describe this time of year: sortumn. Not summer anymore, but not quite autumn either, this just might be my favourite season – a beautiful in-between time made up of equal parts golden sunshine and misty mornings.
It’s particularly lovely where I live, in my semi rural idyll of Romsey. The evenings are still long enough to walk the canal path before dinner, while the slanted sunshine gilds leaves that are just beginning to turn colour. My favourite walk takes us under an ancient apple tree, and at the moment the windfalls are filling the air with a wonderful cidery smell that evokes thoughts of the months yet to come – full of crisp air and cosy jumpers and soup for dinner, with a warm apple crumble afterward if we’re lucky.
As we make our way between the hedgerows, hubby and I, a few early leaves crunch underfoot; the pheasants, stealing a few more days of leisure before the hunters arrive, cluck and chuckle in the fields which border the canal. It’s warm enough to wear short sleeves, but not hot enough to be uncomfortable – the perfect sort of evening to bring along a blanket and a beloved and a bottle of wine to share beside the river, while the mayflies dance and the swallows perform an aerial ballet overhead.
A neighbour asked me the other day why this season is my favourite, as opposed to spring. True, the delights of a full-on English spring are not to be sniffed at – this country knows how to burst into bloom with a vengeance – but there’s something a bit melancholy and bittersweet about these brief few golden weeks that I love beyond reason. The mellow sunshine is fleeting, and the long nights will soon draw in. (These have their good side, too, but they do take some getting used to.) This small season – this sortumn – is a transition, a moment trapped between one thing and another, and as such it can’t ever be truly savoured before it’s gone. Maybe that’s why it feels so precious.