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Words by James Harris

In autumn I return to something like memories, like home. It is the slow bursting of trees into flame, whipped by winds returned to reclaim the shrinking days. The wilderness creeps back into the world, and amidst the smell of earth and dance of leaves at my feet, I am reassured by the breeze brushing roughly against my cheeks, like the playful greeting of an old friend.

Walking through an autumn day, I come across an empty bench in a park surrounded by a carpet of fallen leaves, whilst above it overhanging branches dressed in fire and gold shelter and frame whatever memories may be made beneath. It promises something worth stopping for, inviting a pause into distracted lives spent with heads too often held down, the splendour around us blurred beyond recognition by haste. It brings to mind romance and friendship, enough space to sit two people close, side by side, hands held lovingly between. Warmed by intimacy and thick clothes wrapped like safety around bodies braced against an invigorating chill, secluded couples in a quiet corner of a park can look out together at this quintessentially autumnal scene, in the reassuring realization that solitude, unlike loneliness, can be shared.

For me, autumn safeguards a familiar happiness recalled from my deep rooted past. It reminds me of the comforting certainty of a warm, loving home, always there waiting. Its dependable return, easing summer into winter at the end of each year, reassures me that, even things that seem forgotten and erased by the persistent march of days following days, even though things leave us, they can still come back.

And so, as the melancholy of autumn is like a reflection of the melancholy in me, its arrival means more than just the celebration of the end of summer, or the anticipation of winter’s festivities, the wildness of the weather, or the striking colours on trees; It feels like I know the nature of the world for a while, and the world, for a while, knows the nature of me.

James Harris is 27 and currently studying for an English degree whilst also branching out into creative writing. Of his writing, he says, ‘when I have written something that I am proud of, I feel that I have perhaps improved the bit of world around me, a little each time.’

Photographs by Neil Harrison

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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