Evidence is what I needed, evidence of autumn.
Creeping out of the yard gate and into the deserted entry I wondered what I might find. Would autumn be everywhere as if someone had flipped the autumn switch overnight and plunged us into a world of mists and bonfire smoke? Of course I was hoping to find spiders. You know, the big hairy ones that are everywhere this time of year apparently, real monsters big enough to eat a chicken whole. But the only spider I saw was a tiny pinprick of a creature sitting in the middle of his dew free web. I couldn’t even find one of those orange autumnally bloated slugs that seem to appear just after the summer has left as if they had sucked up the last of the sun and were storing it in their gooey bodies to get them through the winter.
Yes, perhaps the report of summer’s death and the arrival of autumn had been grossly exaggerated.
It was then that I spotted what I was looking for. A little further along the alley tucked up against a neighbour's back wall was a neatly swept pile of leaves. Now these weren’t ordinary leaves, and they weren’t M and S leaves either, these were definitely autumnal leaves. It was their colour that gave them away.
Mind you nature can be tricky, and she makes some leaves red and brown all year around without the need for autumn. So to be sure I picked up a handful to check for the rustle factor. The leaves felt dry and crisp in my hand and when I scrunched them they made a very satisfying dry rustle. These were indeed the first leaves of autumn. I bent to scoop up another handful and as I did a huge brown arachnid, one of those fabled spiders I’d read about in the papers, leaped towards me and clung to my hand.