Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Falls aren't always about Reichenbach with Sherlock Holmes.

Once upon a time, autumn meant changing fall colors. Now it seems to mean pumpkin spice latte, thanks to marketing and developments in flavor chemistry. But for the true-blue Sherlockian, one has to be a bit old-fashioned and side with the changing fall colors. Why?

Well, the single reference to pumpkin in the Canon of Holmes is found in "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange," wherein Sir Eustace Brackenstall's killer described the act thusly: "I went through him as if he had been a rotten pumpkin." Yes, "Sir Eustace's head" equals "rotten pumpkin." Enjoy that latte.

But the rustle of falling leaves as they flutter to the ground and carpet it in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The wonderful autumn panorama of "The Problem of Thor Bridge."

The October rain of "The Resident Patient."

Even the annual hunting invitation from "The Gloria Scott," if that's "deer" to you.

As much as the sixty stories of Sherlock Holmes are spread across all the seasons of the year, there is something particularly autumnal about them. A yellow face mask in a springtime story still reminds one of Halloween. Those than involve deaths make one tend toward fall rather than seasons of new life, radiant sun, or frost and ice. (Death may be cold, but it's not that cold.) Even the classic Sherlock Holmes wardrobe of stereotype . . . the deerstalker cap and Invernesse cape . . . are the clothes of fall.

Had Holmes run around hatless in rolled-up shirtsleeves, maybe we'd think of him more of a summer fellow. Had Mrs. Hudson been serving up green salads, had Dr. Watson enjoyed a lemonade at the seaside in a boater hat on occasion, had cases ended with the birth of babies . . . well, who knows how different the general season of the stories might feel? But even at that, there are other reasons why autumn is a very Sherlockian season.

Fall has traditionally also been a season of anticipation for Sherlockians. Preparations are being made for January festivities. New Holmes pastiches are available for Christmas lists. Back from summer breaks, many a Sherlockian society is going full-steam.

It's a lot more than a Sir Eustace Brackenstall spice latte. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. This is interesting! Growing up with Holmes under baking Indian sun, I can't conjure the image of fall in relation to Holmes! Of course, six+ years in US made me fall in love with Fall(!),but I never read Holmes during those years. The only thing Holmesian I did was visit Sherlock Holmes museum on Baker St during an odd visit to London during that time. For me, these stories invoke mostly dreary, wet atmosphere. Which I would associate with Indian monsoon. And we, of course, still maintain the same victorian quality of roads to give a more authentic feel ;) But otherwise, it's my mind which has seasons when Holmes has waxed or waned.