7 Reasons You Know it’s Autumn (in Yorkshire)
As I walked down the street yesterday, something suddenly hit me: It’s Autumn; here in Yorkshire. Here’s how I can tell.
1. Leaves. The leaves turn brown and fall from the trees. This, you may be thinking, is not unique to Yorkshire, and you would be correct. But here, the leaves fall horizontally and, while I was walking down the street yesterday, a large wet leaf flew from a tree at incredible speed and slapped me in the face. Aha, I thought, it must be autumn again. And ouch. And several minutes later, I developed the traditional Yorkshire ruddy complexion, which will probably last me until March.
2. Water. You may also think that water isn’t unique to Yorkshire and once more, you would be correct. But the fact is that wherever you live – unless you live in the sea – we probably have more of it than you. Whenever there’s a drought in the UK we still have water, and it’s often transported to drier counties (usually Kent) via tanker. And you can tell it’s autumn here because (incredibly) the daily rainfall increases from monsoon to biblical and our rivers get restless and start to explore the surrounding areas. There’s one hanging around at the end of my street right now.
3. Mud. You probably have mud in your gardens that you put your geraniums in, but that doesn’t really prepare you to see Yorkshire autumn mud. I have no idea where it comes from, but our mud is epic. All through the autumn, it’s bloody everywhere, just oozing from things: From our riversides to our footpaths, it eventually covers our towns and cities in a sludgy goo. In fact, Yorkshire is brown until the winter comes, and then it becomes brown and cold.
4. Darkness. On some Autumn days in Yorkshire, it just doesn’t get light. At all. And, when you’re trying to do something in the kitchen at lunchtime (usually making lunch) and you have to switch the lights on, you know it’s autumn. Or you’ve forgotten to open the blinds, but no one would blame you for that, as your view for this quarter of the year is mud, water, flying leaves and darkness. If darkness is even a view.
5. Meanness. Yorkshire folk have quite a reputation for meanness. Some of this is undeserved: The rumour that branches of the Yorkshire Bank don’t have a safe but do, in fact, keep all of their money under a giant mattress is not true and was started by some horrible foreigner (or me, as I sometimes call myself). But in the autumn, people in Yorkshire become chronically mean. Only yesterday, as I walked through the wind and the rain, coat wrapped tightly around me, I saw a man being dragged along by a large umbrella step into a six-inch-deep puddle, soaking his leg. And I laughed. And that was when the leaf hit me. And he laughed back. We’re mean in the autumn.
6. Millinery. Now, it’s also a fanciful stereotype that Yorkshire men wear flat caps all the time. This is not true. Even Yorkshire men don’t wear flat caps in the summer. How do you think many of them get their red, peeling scalps? The flat cap is seldom donned until the autumn. And then it’s worn pushed firmly onto the head to keep it from blowing away. When you see flat caps you know it’s autumn in Yorkshire. Or winter. Or spring.
7. People. Yorkshire is a beautiful place that rightly attracts a lot of tourists. And in the summer, they’re everywhere. Walking slowly and pointing. In the autumn, however, they disappear. I don’t know where they go: Perhaps they drown, perhaps they blow away, perhaps we just don’t see them in the darkness, but they do disappear. Hopefully to somewhere nice as it’s bloody grim here right now.