Our neighbour opposite was changing the tyres on his car to winter tyres, a sure sign of the turn of the season. He wasn’t going to be fooled by a slight increase in temperature. It isn’t compulsory to have winter tyres until the conditions demand, or, if by any chance they don’t, the first of December. However, winter tyres on cars are permitted from October 1st, so today he was changing his tyres. Sensing the warmth in the air, though, it seemed a bit premature.

I was preparing the garden for winter and I wondered if my preparations were also rather premature. Cutting back the remaining green plants always seems sad and I like to leave it until the last possible moment. I told myself that, this probably was the last possible moment, and steeled myself to hack them back.

Clearing leaves makes me thoughtful, because I’m not sure why I’m doing it. A neighbour says it looks tidier, but that’s no reason to do it since the snow will cover everything soon. So I’m not sure what the benefit is, but it feels wrong to leave huge piles of wet leaves lying to rot on top of roughly cut grass. I hope that clearing some of them away will give the ground more of a chance to recover next season, but I really don’t know. I clear them anyway, thinking, it’s quite pleasant, raking them into piles and then watching the wind whistle half of them away again.

It wasn’t warm enough for a ‘pina colada’ by the swimming pool, but I’d been persuaded by a friend to visit the town swimming baths that evening. Generally I’d rather do something more appropriate for the climate, like walk or ski, but this was a social occasion, so I agreed, and I was really glad I had.

Visiting the swimming baths wasn’t all plain sailing though. There was a minefield of instructions and rules to get through before I reached the pool (no shoes here, no pedicures there, leave your towels here, and wash your armpits before going any further) but at least that had the benefit of creating a clean and ordered environment. I also had to brave the Swedish no-nonsense attitude to nudity and boldly go from instruction point to instruction point with as little self-consciousness as I could muster.

However, the actual swimming was a wonderfully relaxing experience. Unlike swimming pools in England (where one is either fighting off huge inflatables, or trying to keep out of the way of competitive lane hogs) this pool was calm and empty. As I was swimming up and down I watched the sun set behind the dark silhouette of Kiruna church.Then there was the hot bubble bath, followed by the sauna. Afterwards I felt I’d had a good day on the beach and was reluctant to swing open the main doors, uncertain what season would greet me.

I began my walk back down the hill in the dark, noticing that the air had none of the damp chill in it of late. Something shot past me to the right. Looking down into the grass I saw it was an arctic hare, easily identified by its long back legs and the ears. I’ve watched a few in our garden recently, sitting among all the leaves, but they’ve been very hard to spot. They’re so good at blending into the background, adjusting the colour of their coat for the season. If I saw one this summer I usually thought a brown plant had moved in the wind, before I was able to make out the tell tale ears.

I shouldn’t have been able to see this one, but I could, because now it’s coat was brilliant white. Set against the dark background it glowed. I watched it bound down the hill and then settle, ears pricked, perfectly still. Its white coat made it very vulnerable to prey (foxes and lynx mainly). Why had it changed its coat so early when there was no snow on the ground? It’s a tricky time for all of us, autumn.