Autumn rambling

Our long late summer is finally fading into autumn. I love autumn. Every year, I get excited by the return of cold crisp air, and the brief rich colours of the trees. I never used to notice the shortening days (only the darkening mornings), but now that I run, this is autumn’s down side: getting used to running through the dark.

I hate running on main roads, so I try to run through parks and along rivers, back streets and quiet neighbourhoods. It’s not that I feel unsafe doing this at night, but – well, actually, that’s not true. I do, a little. Then I remind myself that I’m running, and I can run faster if I need to.

Still, running across Hyde Park at night is eerie. I gain an entirely different awareness of how big this empty spot in the middle of central London is. I love it (and there’s a police station in the middle, which is reassuring), but I still feel better when I hit the Serpentine and lit roads.

There’s lots to get excited about this autumn though. Instead of heading north to Scotland for the colours (which is always exciting), we’re heading to the US for a wedding (not ours!) and a road trip, to enjoy their colours instead. The midwest and the Wild West – an adventure, and a cultural curiosity given their current political deadlock. The oddity of the government shutdown means that they have successfully shut the world’s biggest hole in the ground, the Grand Canyon, which makes me sad.

National Parks are wonderful things, but the flipside appears to be that you can remove from circulation the most interesting, beautiful and/or significant parts of your country is utterly baffling. Imagine putting gates on Snowdonia, or the Lake District. I simply can’t get my head around it. If I think about it, I recognise that our national parks are designated areas of beauty, that may have some conservation and ranger staff attached (and a visitor centre), but are often still partially privately owned, typically by farmers. I have to assume (I can’t check, as the shutdown means that even the US National Parks website has been taken down) that the US service does a hell of a lot more… as well as being able to lock people out of their own country. No, see, baffled again.

I’m still excited. The National Parks are just the most famous bits of a wild landscape that is staggeringly beautiful, and which our trip won’t give us time to do justice. We’ll still have an amazing time.

The real question is whether I only take my Kindle, or whether I take along the 2 books I’ve been eagerly awaiting for years (as they are both physical, and heavy). Michael Marshall Smith’s new collection of short stories is one of my event books of the year; his first collection, What You Make It has been on my list of all-time favourite books as he is such a talented short-form writer. Scott Lynch’s Republic of Thieves, the third installment of Locke Lamora and his conman antics in a techno-mediaeval Mediterranean analogue, features the woman who broke his heart and … well, it doesn’t matter what else, frankly. It’s a Locke Lamora book. I’m an excited 6 year old (or 16 year old; these are definitely not children’s books). Given we are travelling by car, I don’t think this is a real question. Hello my friends, come a-travelling!

No promises that my blog won’t remain largely a book blog this year, but I promise to at least link to shiny photos of red canyonland on Instagram when I get back…