Time-travelling through the seasons

Times are changing 

It’s October and, in the words of Bob Dylan: “The times they are a changin”. We’ve bid goodbye to the long, hot summer. September, as always, has been the perfect in-between month, smoothing out the path into another verdant season, and it is now time for us to embrace the cosy Algarvian autumn. 

If you’re new to life in the westernmost part of Europe, rest assured – it doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom from here on out. On the contrary, it will be far more bud, boom and bloom. 

Like the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, we are tilted away from the sun from September to March, but I’ve long thought that the seasons seem a bit back to front in this little sun-kissed corner of the world. 

My theory is that Algarvian summers are in peculiar ways like winters up north and that autumn here is simply a second spring. Allow me to explain …

Springing through the fall

Autumn in more northerly countries is famously preparing everyone for a much-needed rest whilst teaching the beauty of letting things go. Deciduous trees start to turn glorious shades of orange before they shed their foliage in preparation for winter hibernation. And in the deep winter snooze, not much dares to grow and stick its head above the snow. 

Here, on the other hand, it is summer’s blazing hot temperatures that most of life needs to retreat from (including me, when it gets much past 35°C). A visit to the local farmer’s market in August will prove this point: there’s much less variety in greens to be found. However, fair props to goddess Gaya for providing us with figs, grapes and, miraculously, melons – the most delicious orbs of flavoured water – just when we need sweet hydration most.

With the first September showers, we may watch the ground with wonder as the dusty, dry, golden landscape puts out shoots of green anew. It’s like Mother Nature is dressing up for winter, putting on her deep-green velvet coat. Cabbages, leafy greens, pumpkins and broccoli (and the rest of the heart-warming autumn stew ingredients and Halloween fandangles) are back at the market stalls and we are looking forward to times changing. Speaking of it …

Need an extra hour?

Clocks are falling back this month: On Sunday 29 October, at 2 o’clock in the morning, we are going to travel back in time one hour. 

Thank goodness it is this way around and we actually win on sleep this time. And even though we gain an hour in the morning, it’s still sad to come to terms with it suddenly being dark at 6 pm. It always seemed somewhat peculiar to me that we have to match our inner natural rhythms to an outside clockwork. Why not behave like the birds and the bees and rise and set with the sun? 

A friend of mine had a quite reasonable solution to the clock-time-trouble and suggested: “Why don’t we just split the difference? Go forward half an hour in March – and then just leave it there?” And honestly, I can’t see how he’s wrong. Evidence proves that a permanent standard time could indeed cite benefits to our overall creativity, our well-being and even energy efficiency. 

Yet still, I am intrigued by this hour that doesn’t seem to exist. What do I mean? Well, whatever you do on 29 October between 1 and 2 am (the first-time round) magically vanishes. It is as if you get to live that hour again – a second time. What will you do with your extra hour?  

About Time

It reminds me of one of my favourite Richard Curtis films from 2013 called About Time. It’s about Tim (played by Domhnall Gleeson) and his mission to find love after he is told by his father (played by Daddy Cool himself, Bill Nighy) that the men in the family have the remarkable ability to travel back in time.

Now, although it is a time-travel movie, the time-travelling aspect is wonderfully downplayed. In fact, I heard Richard Curtis say it was a bit of an anti-time-travel movie.

You see, Bill Nighy lets Tim in on his secret formula for happiness and suggests that his son lives every day again – “the first time with all the tensions and worries that stop us noticing how sweet the world can be, but the second time – noticing.”

I always loved that idea. However, by the end, Tim realises that he could save some time by just living each day like he has already come back – and simply enjoy it the first time around. What I love about this is that it’s a power available even to us non-time-travelling folks. So, as we make our way through the seasons, I would like to encourage you too – ‘to notice’. 

And, as for that extra hour? Who am I kidding – it’s 2 am in the morning! I’m sure I’ll enjoy sleeping just as much the first time as I do the second. Happy autumn, everyone!


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