Autumn is a time of gathering food and preparing for winter, its a time of sharing found hedgerow treasures, its a time when we want to add light to darker days and nights, the leaves are filled with the most wonderful array of colours before they fall - and it always feels vital to me to get out and experience that before the branches are bare. Its also a time when wildlife is busy gathering food and preparing for winter - so it can bring incredibly rewarding encounters if you get out there.
For me, autumn also brings strong memories of previous years and of various projects that I've been involved in, its a good reminder of just how much the changing seasons can stir powerful emotions and memories (for all of us), and thereby another reason why working outside with children is so important.
Many years ago in November, I was part of a team of people working on an international youth theatre project in Germany, although we were mostly working inside in a community space, we stayed in a youth hostel in the woods and there was such a strong presence of autumn as we explored the trees outside, as we walked through the woodland and into the nearby village (past houses with wonderful arrangements of pumpkins outside their front doors) and as we visited other youth arts projects with very inspirational outdoor spaces.
I've taken part in several study visits abroad, with the international Reggio Emilia network, amongst others, and many of these have been during the autumn. I had a wonderfully inspirational time in Denmark a few years ago where we visited a number of different schools, all exploring the Reggio ethos and all working outside (some with no inside space at all). In a different autumn I went on another amazing study visit to Sweden with their Reggio inspired schools - where Stockholm was filled with such a strong sense of the season. All the schools I've been to in Scandinavia (and I'm presently working with a school in Espoo, in Finland through my role at Dunkirk Primary) have a strong link with the natural world in their indoor spaces - and its something we've lost in many schools in the UK.
Autumn is also a time of gathering light around you - something that connects us deeply with our ancestors. I've worked on many lantern projects, at all times of the year, but autumn and linking lanterns with fireworks and bonfire celebrations has featured a lot (as has linking lanterns with "Christmas light switch-ons" which seem to happen in November often...).
Wildlife watching and photography opportunities are rich in the autumn - flocks of geese flying over Norfolk, red deer rutting in the Scottish Highlands, jays gathering acorns in woods and hedgerows, badgers foraging outside their setts, nuthatches gathering food in dense woodland... there's so much to drink in...