I think it’s time, finally, to let go of the notion that we might have one more gasp of summer. We’ve had the doonas out this week and I’ve donned a cardigan for early morning writing. I’m even starting to resist the pool. The bikes have had a couple of nice rides though, the city, Southbank. And I feel the novel coming along. It must be winter on the way!
It’s hard to accept the change of season when Easter gave such an unexpected and delightful few days of late summer. We were waking early to get to the beach for a swim, sleeping after lunch, eating gelati in the afternoon and pizza for dinner, before falling into exhausted sleep and doing it all over again the next day. I felt sad when it ended but within a week, I was thinking about sheepskin boots, the ones I didn’t buy last year, which maybe I should have. Although once you’re buying sheepskin boots, having donned a cardigan, you really are well on the way to dagsville.
I love Brisbane autumn. One, it means winter is coming and if there’s a more splendid time and place anywhere in the world than winter in Brisbane, I can’t imagine it, cool sunny days, softening light, walking in the bush, bravely swimming in the Southbank lake. Heaven. Two, it’s Anzac Day, and every year we make our way up the hill for the service. So many names on our memorial, so many deaths, just from our little neighbourhood, all those young men who never came home, never grew old enough to think sheepskin boots or cardigans were daggy. Boys like the young man from the Boys’ Brigade, maybe seventeen now, who plays The Last Post on his bugle at the service every year – he might have gone to war if he’d lived in another time. And the choir of primary school children singing In Flanders Fields, they always do me in; I cry every time, but I wouldn’t swap the experience for anything. Three, it means the end of the Easter school holidays which always gives me pause. My son really is a year older, and so am I, and we better get the leaves out of the gutters in case there’s another of those rare winter storms. Moreover, I better work out what the heck I want to achieve this year because it’s a third of the way through and I haven’t got it together yet.
In pagan cultures, autumn was a time of balance before the night took over from the day, bringing winter, which was death. Psychically we’re supposed to close down, turn inward, slough off the unwanted and regroup creatively in readiness for the growth of spring. But perhaps because I grew up in Brisbane, autumn is a time of excitement, a time I wake after the long hot summer and do my best creative work. My son was born in winter and I was heavily pregnant through the autumn so maybe that’s also why it means so much for me. I remember early one morning not long after he was born. It was very cold for Brisbane, six degrees, crisp, clear. There were birds singing in the trees, as there are all through Brisbane’s winter, a gift that colder places are not given. My son and I were wrapped in my pajama shirt and cardigan. I was wearing the sheepskin boots I used to own in those days, not caring about dagginess. Through the leaves of a giant fig tree, I could see the river moving slowly. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more happy in my life.
People often say Brisbane has no seasons but I don’t agree. Perhaps it’s because we’re now so removed from the natural world and its rhythms. But I’m walking at dawn a full hour later than I was a month ago. The sun and moon are on the move. The birds, still there, are more muted in their calls. For others, winter might be the time for closing down but for me it’s the opposite, my most creative time, a time for new beginnings. Bring it on, I say.