Some years ago when I first moved to Norway full time I started to feel very depressed when I could see autumn on the horizon. It felt like a "non" season, just the tedious transition between the long days of summer and the beauty of winter with Christmas coming. Autumn in Scandinavia can be a testing time especially for those who are used to blue skies and sun.
I am from the sunniest part of England - the south west - where winter barely touched us. We had been back and forth between England and Norway for years but only for a few weeks at a time and never with the prospect of staying for months at a time. I was used to an abundance of flowers in the winter, green fields and never snow! Norway was another matter altogether. Autumn descended quickly with never ending grey skies, bitingly cold mornings and plenty of rain. I found myself feeling as grey as the skies could be.
After an entire autumn of feeling sorry for myself and moaning about the sky never getting properly light I decided to make a conscious effort to look for the things that made autumn special. The things I could embrace and enjoy. The things that would make me look forward to it. And with a little effort I found that autumn gently became my favourite season of the year. Now I am looking forward to those crisp days of colourful leaves and all the joy that comes with that long before autumn even arrives.
For many autumn can be an effortless love affair and can feel so cosy and a time that one longs for after a few months of hot summer sun.
But we are not all like that. If you are someone who felt like I felt, I have a few suggestions that might help you fall in love with one the most colourful and beautiful seasons we have.
Change your Eating Habits
Actively change your eating habits to include cosy, warming food like stews and casseroles, fresh bread and comforting desserts. The last Thursday in September is fårikål day in Norway. Fårikål is Norway's national dish and is a delicious hearty stew of lamb and cabbage. It always feels to me like a wonderful way to mark autumn and something we can all do wherever we are in the world.
Look for the Beauty
Look for the rainbow of colours that the autumn offers. I'm not just talking about autumn leaves, but also autumn flowers, unusual coloured skies and the colour of the forest floor. I am always astonished by the variety of colour that comes from mushrooms, but when you think about it they are the flowering part of the plant so it's logical they should be brightly coloured. Sometimes in the forest it can feel like you are walking through a field of flowers.
Appreciate the Bounty of Autumn
For me that is the wild mushrooms and berries that we are so lucky to find in Norway. For you it might be a favourite fruit or vegetable that is in in season and at it's best in the autumn.
Take Time to Feel the Cooler Mornings and Warm Days
There is a special smell to the time of autumn. It's a wonderful to grab a hot drink first thing in the morning and stand outside and take a deep breath of that crisp fresh air. There is an earthy smell that only seems to happen in the autumn. I like to take my coffee into the forest on a Sunday morning and just relish those quiet moments.
Look for the Stars
The further we progress into autumn the darker the skies get and better chance we have to enjoy the night skies and stars. I can't wait to see the stars properly again and the prospect of the Northern Lights. Try looking for somewhere with a little less light pollution and give yourself some time to stand and look at the sky.
Enjoy a Treat
Longer evenings and shorter days mean we can really enjoy treats like hot chocolate and a favourite book. Be a little Nordic and forget about those calories for the time being - you can get outside later and burn them off!
Light Some Candles
If you are in colder climes take the opportunity to light a fire or some candles. By the end of August in Norway we are all getting wood in ready for our autumn and winter fires and I love to light a candle to welcome those cosy evenings.
Enjoy the Gentle Transition of Autumn into Winter
It can be easy to find ourselves swept up in the countdown to Christmas and as a result we miss the beauty and grace of a season so full of abundance for all the senses. The winter will arrive soon enough, but let's not miss out on a season that is so precious.
Of course, one of the things that constantly keeps people in the Nordics some of the happiest in the world is their love of the outdoors and people here really know what that means for their mental and physical wellbeing. If you'd like to live a little more Nordicly and don't know where to start I have a great guide for you.
My book, "Friluftsliv: The Nordic Art of Loving the Outdoors" is available for instant download right here.
Why not join me, Andre and thousands of others who love Nordic living in our Facebook group, Living a Nordic Life. We'd love to welcome you there.