Tuesday, May 3, 2011

California Dreaming.

If I were to believe in God, I imagine he created autumn as a painter. He wore a red beret and sat before a canvas with a palette of the brightest paints. He drew the harsh glare of mid April sunshine beaming down on rosy cheeks, exposed amongst layers of scarves to the crisp, fresh air. From his canvas sprung over-saturated blue skies and the tantalising glint of sunshine on ice-cold water. Trees overflowed with colour, their leaves falling in cascades of red, gold and yellow. If you squint hard your eyes slightly, and let your imagination be bold, he thought, some might see trees aflame.

Ah, yes. Although each March may bring with it the ritual mourning of a by-gone summer, autumn has much to be delighted in. It is not a plodding cart-horse, dragging us into the despairing depths of winter, but a fire-blazing chariot racing between each solstice.

It’s autumn now. Each day grows shorter. Darkness rushes hungrily, a ravenous wolf, devouring rapaciously the lingering warmth of balmy summer twilights.  But, though dusk horse gallops quickly, every sunset is a spectacle. Each moment is a fleeting masterpiece of brilliance in the sky. Last week the entire city shone with the sky’s surreal orange glow. I raced upstairs to get my camera. In just a few seconds the colour was gone, replaced by cobalt blue and one evening star.

Autumn nights grow colder. Blankets are layered upon beds and students don hoodies and huddle beneath duvets in the living rooms of unheated flats. One April morning sees the first dusting of icing sugar snow of the distant Rimutakas. People marvel in the landscape’s magic as they walk briskly to work in the fresh morning air. Their breaths form little mists which hover delicately in front of people’s faces like individual patronuses. There is energy in autumn, a sense of invigoration so strong it is almost palpable.

Growing up on a farm, the seasons signified more than just a change in weather, but a change in our way of life. Year after year, in my mother’s garden, the yellow daffodil hillsides of spring gave way to sprawls of red summer roses and then to the rustic leaves of autumn. My brother and I were set to work raking the fallen leaves into enormous colourful piles. Much to my mother’s dismay, we would then delight in jumping into them, tossing the leaves in the air- like great red sparks leaping from a giant bonfire.

As the nights took on an icy chill, my father would spend days chopping fire-wood. The saw whirred terrifyingly behind the ancient red tractor and wood was stacked to the roof of the rusty tin shed. Around this time, we would dust off the great cast-iron coal-range in our kitchen. That half century-old fire was the life-blood of our family. It burned constantly; heating our hot water cylinder, my father’s stewed apples and giant pots of Mum’s pumpkin soup. It burned steadily through the night, while outside Jack Frost made silent visits beneath a canopy of crystal clear stars. We would awake to a dazzling world of white outside our windows and stoke the last glowing embers to keep the heart-fire burning.

I loved autumn. And I do still. I love the sense of winter howling at the door. How the sun makes it last valiant bursts of energy to chase back cold’s creeping shadow.
You may dream of California, but I’ll stay for the fall.
My creative "logic"
Colour inspiration


  1. Enjoyed a lot. Your writing is sounding really original, soursum!
    I feel like patronuses should have a different plural? patroni? haha
    keep it up

  2. That's what I thought too Rom! But a quick search of Harry Potter Wiki (yes, such a thing exists!), told me it was "patronuses".
    Thanks though lovely!

  3. you are so talented laurel. I always feel a warmth of comfort when i read your delicious creations :)

  4. mmm so delicious to read. love every word. your 'creative logic' is also an image of subtle excitement to me. love your words. love love love. btw my dad always stewed the apples and mum would cook the pumpkin soup too ;)