October 10, 2010

Mid-October afternoon

South London looks glorious on a day like today. The autumn sun is low and bright, the light golden, and it blazes through the half-undressed horse chestnuts and sends their shadows long across the leaf-strewn streets. After the recent rain the grass is lush and high again, and in every forgotten corner new nettles stand four inches tall; it's like a last-gasp attempt at spring, but too little, too late, for each day shortens now and it will be winter soon. Tell that to the nasturtiums and marigolds, though, pushing through the dieback summer bedding in the front gardens; tell that to the sedums blushing pink by the paths and the last tomatoes ripening on the vines. It's warm, and the sun shines, and on every street somebody is washing a car. But the afternoon sun is low, and by seven it will be dark, and not tonight, but in a few nights' time, will come the first frost of the year.