Auburn leaves, Bonfire night, and crisp air: Autumn is here | Jack Marshall’s column

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It starts with stuff like a mossy shift in the smell of the rain, an overnight evolution in the colour of leaves from something lush to something a flicker more pallid. With the explosion of hedgerows lousy with berries and harvest mice, murmurations of birds crashing over horizons like evening waves followed by morning frost on grass under a faint mist.

Soil turns darker, richer underfoot. Strides get louder as dried leaves gather in fluffy piles and get steadily soggier. But that’s still a few weeks off - Autumn officially started just over a week ago, but it's been threatening for a while. Keen-eyed observers will’ve noticed the tell-tale pixels of shift.

In August, the country was baked dry, fields golden from sun and long weeks between coughs of rain. It was still warm, but the edge had dulled, the mercury nudged towards 20 and away from 30 as the odd storm broke the closeness like a chisel. Stuffy nights of windows thrown open to thick inky air faded away over time.

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More importantly, Starbucks started selling its pumpkin spiced latte again, heralding the true arrival of Autumn. A million white girls were awakened from their bikini-clad summer slumber – they’re no doubt posting Instagram stories with captions like ‘fall vibez’ as we speak. And all power to their parka-clad elbows; tartan scarf and mitten manufacturers will be licking their lips.

Pumpkin Spiced LattePumpkin Spiced Latte
Pumpkin Spiced Latte

I’ve always been a summer person, but I’ve been looking forward to Autumn a lot more this year. In as open-and-closed case of ‘the grass is always greener’ as you’ll ever find, I’ve gone from fantasising about blue skies during the icy chills of January to now dreaming of the smell of smoke, jacket weather, bonfire night, and candles in terracotta jars which smell of cinnamon.

But it’s all a mirage: reveries of chocolatey browns, burned oranges, and pleasantly thin air on weekend morning walks to a pub with an open fireplace and hefty Sunday dinners are the stuff of utopia. Sadly, we’d all be better off steeling ourselves for six months of grey and the rumble of extortionate central heating. But still, we can dream.

In the meantime, pumpkin spiced latte, anyone?