As a student living on the opposite side of the meadows from the university’s central geography campus and main library, I commute daily back and fourth across Edinburgh’s mini “Central Park.” The meadows is a dynamic park with tennis courts, a playground, bike paths, and a bbq area. Beautiful pink cherry blossom trees line the walking paths, creating colourful tree tunnels, criss-crossing the vast expanses of grass. I feel so blessed to live near such a massive green space in the city. Autumn is nearing to a close, so I will describe the meadows through a couple of senses, sharing with you the magical transition from summer to winter.
Barbecues are traded in for hot cups of coffee, and picnics are swapped with people wrapped up in massive scarves to keep warm. As the temperature dips to 2-5 degrees celsius, the meadows transform from a sunny and busy hang out spot to a windy tundra of apocalyptic proportions. People are not the only ones bundling up for the chilly temps. Another signal that winter is coming are the canine friends sporting stylish coats and sweaters, a sight I’m sure would cheer up anyone’s day.
While most people joke about the never-ending rain that keeps Scotland forever green, I would argue that Edinburgh is the city of wind rather than rain. The meadows is no longer filled with picnic-ing families and acrobats balancing on slack lines, rather everyone traverses quickly so not to get swept away by the strong gales.
Apart from the slack line enthusiasts there are other clubs who frequent the meadows on a weekly basis. Mostly noticeably during autumn The Beltane Fire Society are seen practicing their fire-spinning performances at night. They can be spotted from the opposite side of the meadows as balls of light dance around in loops and circles. Another quintessentially British club is the Harry Potter Society, returning to the meadows in autumn, once University is in session, to practice “Quidditch.”
The most fantastic feature of the meadows during October, and especially November, must be the turning of the leaves. The shiny oval leaves of the cherry blossom trees take on various hues of that of a burning flame, ranging from soft yellows and blazing oranges to deep dark reds. But don’t wait too long to take your leaf pictures for the ‘gram because the rain will quickly turn those bright crispy leaves to mushy brown piles of mud in the blink of an eye.
Edinburgh is famous for being “grey” from the ever-overcast sky, yet there is another side to this gloomy coin. The sunsets are spectacular. Colours from neon pink to magenta and purple are brushed across the clouds, a masterpiece certainly worth capturing on your phone.
As November nears its end, frost become a frequent sight in the early morning hours. Edinburgh is quite wet, so the frost which forms on the grass and pavement can become quite thick, yet dazzles with its brilliant sparkles.
While most cold locations do not require to have the grass cut as the temperatures drop, Edinburgh’s eternal rain keeps the grass growing. The freshly mowed grass of the meadows in September and October is the first layer of the park’s aromas.
Anyone who has visited Edinburgh has encountered its unique “cookie/biscuit” smell, which is in fact aromas from a local whiskey distillery. The sweet oat-y scent that fills the autumn air is very “Edinburgh.” In this sense, Scottish whiskey follows you everywhere you go. I love the mixture of this smell with the decomposing leaves. It reminds me of home, raking up fallen leaves to fill pumpkin-coloured trash bags, which would decorate my front garden just in time for Halloween.
“The North British Distillery’s roasted malt smell has given the capital air a distinctive tang since 1885.” -BBC, 2009
You know when you can just smell “winter?” Its that cold air aroma, wafted in by the snow clouds looming above. This “layer” in the mixture of meadows scents occurs as the last of the leaves fall off of the trees and the sun begins to disappear before 4pm.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into the meadows during autumn!