“I can’t wait for summer, I’m sick of being stuck indoors…”
Ever heard this, or something like it?
As we enter Autumn here in the UK, it seems an appropriate time to stress that you can, and should, get outside every week of the year.
In many ways, Summer is the most over-rated of seasons. We may get peak temperatures, but average rainfall in June/July is the same as for February, and months like April, May and September tend to be drier than August, supposedly the sunniest and hottest month.
This argument is based on the assumption lots of heat and sun is what you want. But if you are reading this blog, you are probably interested in the natural world, and in the natural world the British summer can be the most boring of times.
On the upside, you get plenty of insect action. But birds, mammals, and many other groups are much harder to spot. They are not necessarily fans of excessive heat and go into hiding.
Spring and Autumn are when the migrants are more populous. Winter is when your feeders are more likely to be heavily used by a greater range of species.
In Spring, Autumn and Winter many species are far more visible. Sunshine may be more limited, but the subtler qualities of the light outside of the summer are more beautiful, and better for visibility. Low golden light dappling through bronze leaves, is there anything the summer offers that rivals that?
As we know, it’s good for our bodies and minds to go walking outside. This does not go up and down with the seasons; green exercise is good all year round. As such, you should embrace seasonality.
Culturally we are conditioned to think of Spring and Summer as good, and Winter in particular as bad. The imagery of our language and literature drives home the idea that “cold”, “dark”, “damp” are negative things, “hot”, “bright”, “dry” are positive. But this is only ever subjective. What is beneficial for one species is damaging for another.
We need to break our conditioning and embrace the beauty in the cold, dark, and even the damp. A wise person once said:
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”
In the UK at least, this is fairly accurate. As long as you dress in warm and waterproof clothes, you should be able to go out once a week for walk around your local park, woodland, lakeside, or wherever else the fancy takes you. Your mind and body will thank you for it.
As a final thought I will leave off not in my own words, but in these words spoken by the great Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. I join him in embracing a long and lustrous winter.