Autumn in Berlin. Red and gold leaves. This has without a doubt become my favourite season in the ten years I’ve been guiding in this city.
The sky streams Blue. Wandering through my neighbourhood on a rare free morning by myself after dropping my son at kindergarten I’m reminded of an old song I used to love in my early twenties – The Autumn Leaves (or Les Feuilles Mortes in the original french…).
A different backstory
Growing up in Australia I was used to the dull, dark green, thick leaves of the eucalyptus trees, which never deigned to turn bright colours and drop to the ground like the European leaves. I remember the first time I ever came to Europe and was amazed by the sheer emerald green of the new spring leaves. Spring still surprises me every year as bare branches turn to fully leafed trees in the matter of a few weeks. But Autumn – oh autumn…. when the days are still bright and warm, the leaves slowly turn gold and red – is pure magic. I could definitely write a song about falling in love with Autumn. Forget April in Paris and give October in Berlin a chance. There is nothing like wandering through the streets and seeing the ivy climbing the walls of old pre War apartments – it turns bright scarlet at this time of year rendering even the most simple of apartment blocks stunning. Or riding a bike through the Tiergarten along the river as the light breeze makes the golden leaves swirl in eddies in my wake. Most people still sit outside to drink their morning coffee, wrapped in the warm fleece blankets that most cafes provide as the mornings turn cooler. Knowing the winter will soon be here means Berliners are determined to soak up as much of the autumn light as possible and only resort to sitting inside after the first frosts appear.
The darkness comes…
Perhaps because as a tour guide I’m very aware that the days will soon grow darker and colder and once I put on my thick down coat and waterproof boots to meet my clients I won’t wear anything else again til April. Perhaps at this time of year I’m simply grateful for every day it’s not raining…
Gratitude for the simplest of pleasures
But for me there is something really special about these days with a bright blue sky when the sun is pale but still warm and the clocks have yet to be turned back, marking the day which plunges us in freefall into darkness towards the shortest day of the year. These are days to be spent outside as much as possible, soaking in the pale rays, walking arm in arm with friends through the parks of Berlin or Potsdam or sitting in cafes reading and people watching as the leaves turn bright hues and fall lightly to the ground around you. This is the time to breathe slowly and deeply the last of the warm air and treasure the sun each day before the winter winds sweep aside those fallen leaves which will soon turn brown and dead. This is the time of gratitude for the simplest of pleasures – warm yellow sun and pretty leaves and blue sky. Aaahhh, Autumn….