Autumn, ThoughtsSarah Hardman

On a cold and frosty morning

Autumn, ThoughtsSarah Hardman
On a cold and frosty morning

As autumn starts to become winter, we're waking up to condensation-covered windows and a distinct chill in the air (which makes getting out of bed that bit harder, especially as the mornings are now much darker). It's often wet and windy; we don't really live that far from the Lake District and everyone knows how rainy it is there at any time of the year.

So the first real frosts are special. Some mornings I look outside and see a heavy mist rolling down the hills and dew on all those otherwise invisible networks of cobwebs; layers upon layers of them, spun across the thistles and through the now almost leafless shrubs. But actual frost - the sort that traces in glistening white the veins and finer details of the slowly decaying vegetation, that crunches underfoot as you walk across the grass: well, it has a distinct feeling of magic.

A bit like the 'Golden Hour', that fleeting window during the day just before dusk, an early morning frost is all the more precious because (in autumn, at least) it's a transient time. Once the sun rises, despite remaining low in the sky, that magic melts and disappears and before you know it, it's as though the silvery, dimly-lit fairytale-book version of the garden was never even there.

So on these mornings we pull back the curtains, gasp with delight and hastily pull on our boots. We slip out of the kitchen door, not even pausing to grab coats or dressing gowns. We wander around, me with my camera, Joe excitedly picking up brittle, sparkling leaves to show me, speaking in whispers. Our breath coming out in little clouds.

Before very long the otherworldliness has gone, evaporating into the weak warmth and light of the November sun. We hurry back indoors with tingling fingers and toes. I've managed to capture some of the ephemeral beauty inside my camera - dozens of photographs. Looking at them later I can almost feel the cold and experience again the enchanted moment we shared before the day began.