I stepped out of the revision cave today, only to see that the Equinox has come and gone, and it’s now officially fall. Except that in England, it’s autumn. All fall means here is a stumble or a collapse.

I keep getting tripped up by this, but in a way it makes sense to have two words, if only because the seasons they describe are so different.

Fall to me means pumpkin carving. Cider stands. The honeyed snap of a just-picked McIntosh. Glorious mornings at the local farmer’s market. A hail of acorns falling. Rowdy stomps through leaves with Sweetpea, under trees as bright as flame.

An English autumn is a more sedate affair, darker and damper and muted. But it has its beauties, too. I lived here years ago, and I remember the tartness of blackberries in late September, the smoke and crackle of Bonfire Night, and old stone walls glowing in the low, golden light.

We’re on the cusp of the seasons this week. Today it’s cold and rainy, but at our picnic lunch on Tuesday the kids were so hot they were rolling their trousers into shorts.

Even on the sunny days, though, you can feel autumn coming. The long northern nights are drawing in, and the sweet lambs of spring have grown stout and woolly. In the evenings I amble along hedgerows studded with late plums, past fields bare of all but the last gleanings of wheat or rye. And wherever I walk, I feel the wheel of the year turning beneath my feet.

What does fall (or autumn) mean where you live?

The rye fields near my house, before the harvest

And after

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