The Perks of Autumn

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So here’s the thing: I don’t like the sun. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that it exists. Everybody knows this star is essential to life on Earth. What I mean is that I don’t enjoy the rays of the sun reaching my body, specially my head and my eyes. Direct sunlight can actually make me sick, usually in the form of a bad migraine. Summer and hot weather in general are, simply put, not my cup of tea.

It should come as no surprise that every year I get really excited when summer is over and autumn is rolling in. And considering I live in Finland, where summer lasts one day, that says a lot about me.

I know all people go crazy when autumn is around the corner. After all, autumn is, together with winter, the most hyggelig time of the year. But no one seems to enjoy themselves when the cold weather, darkness, heavy rains and snow come around.

I’m a student at the university of Helsinki. Almost every day, before the class starts, people like to comment on the weather (smalltalk isn’t particularly exciting here). They always seem disappointed unless it’s sunny and warm. When it’s sunny outside and they comment on how great that is, I just nod along, because I get where they come from and I don’t want to interfere with a negative comment about how unnecessarily bright the classroom is (seriously though, there’s no need to open all the blinds). Not to mention that in Finland it’s frowned upon to avoid sunlight exposure. But when they complain about the lack of sun and heat, I try to remind them that there’s still beauty out there. There’s a lot of forest around here, so misty mornings make walking to the bus stop and waiting for the bus a transcendental activity. It’s also awesome to wake up to freshly fallen snow, specially when it’s unexpected, like in the middle of May. Also, has anyone paid attention to the way tree leaves change color and cover the ground? There’s literally no reason to complain.

To be honest, I only found out about my love for autumn three years ago. I think it’s because we’re ‘supposed’ to like summer. So much so, that as soon as the first leaves would start to fall off the trees in the middle of August, I’d freak out. But then one autumn, being mindful of my own emotions, I paid attention to that warm, fuzzy feeling in my stomach that I get every autumn. And it was then that I realised that I, in fact, love this season. Now I kinda lose it when summer gets closer, but that’s another story. I might write a blog post about things that I like about summer that don’t require roasting myself under the sun.

So, I’ve made a list of of the aspects of autumn I enjoy the most, for those of you that dislike autumn, and also for those that already love it but simply enjoy reading about how other people perceive things. These ideas are rather obvious, but you might get another insight on why they’re great.

1. Nature

As I mentioned earlier, autumn turns nature into a fairytale. So, wake-up early and go for a walk around a misty forest. Or maybe go and pick up colourful leaves to take some nice pictures. I even made a very short stop-motion video with them (you can check it out here). You can also use the leaves to make some DIY fall decorations and get the hygge going.

2. Seasonal produce

Image taken by Lauri Kinnunen, edited by me

Autumn brings to this world some of my favorite fruits and vegetables. Here are some:

  • Squashes: butternut squash (to use in cakes or somewhat elaborate soups), hokkaido squash (to make a simple pumpkin-potato thick soup).
  • Chestnuts: either roasted or used in soups.
  • Persimmons: I like them so much that, when I was a kid, my grandpa planted a persimmon tree on the backyard of my grandparents’ house. Be sure to get the right ones, though. Nowadays you can find unripened solid ones that for some reason don’t taste bad. The good ones are very giggly and delicate: they feel soft to the touch, as if there were jam underneath their thin skin.
  • Apples: Finnish apples are a delicacy. They’re tiny little sweet and sour balls of joy. I didn’t appreciate apples at all until I moved to Finland.

3. Warm beverages

I don’t really drink coffee or tea, so when it comes to hot beverages I have two options: herbal infusions or hot chocolate.

Some weeks ago my mum sent me some mint tea she picked up from my grandma’s hometown surroundings. The village, Ejulve, is in Aragón, Spain. Lots of aromatic dried herbs grow there, including rosemary, thyme, lavender and mint. When I made myself a cup of mint infusion, my whole apartment smelled like Ejulve. And it’s not like that place smells like mint, but that smell had something very unique that brought lots of childhood memories. But you don’t need to go to any remote place to pick up your own aromatic herbs. It’s enough to pick you favorite tea, add some honey to it (or not) and drink it being aware and grateful for the moment.
I’ve also recently made a Paleo version of the classic Chocolate a la taza, aka Spanish hot chocolate. Check out the recipe and give yourself a treat!

4. Soups

Soups are my absolute favorite thing to eat. I’ll have soup anytime. Even during summer, when it’s hot and normal people eat refreshing stuff, I’ll still have my bowl of steaming hot soup. Autumn and winter are so great, that I can enjoy soups without regreting it afterwards. I’m going to share many soup recipes in this blog, which I’m going to post on PaleoSpoon, my recipe website.

5. Self-pampering

pamper Image taken by Lauri Kinnunen, edited by me

Self-care shouldn’t be something you do only during autumn. But during the dark months of the year it’s good to pay some extra attention to yourself. At the beginning of this blog post I mentioned I enjoy autumn and winter due to the lack of sun. But that doesn’t mean I’m not affected by it. Finland starts to get pretty dark in November. Mornings are dark and the sun sets at 3 in the afternoon, and to me, 5 p.m. feels like bedtime. Whenever I have the time, I like to take this early tiredness as an opportunity to have a slow evening. I like to put a face mask on and relax. I’d take a bath if I had a bathtub, but I don’t. So I just sit on the toilet and read a book for lack of a better option. Tip: I know the idea of sipping some tea while having your face mask on sounds appealing, but do a favor to your digestive system and just don’t.

Disclaimer: there’s obviously no need to look like a creature from another realm to relax. This was just an example of one of the things I enjoy doing when it’s cold and dark outside.

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Author's picture

Tània Sierra

I’m a 28-year-old Catalan woman based in Helsinki, Finland.

FI / SV > CA / ES
Literary Translator