Sunday, February 13, 2011
Of late summer, clouds and clocks
This is the sort of late summer day that makes Armidale a place that is a joy to live in. Actually, it feels more like an early autumn day, and given that it’s half-past February (as the hibernating bear said when he looked at his watch), that’s a good way to put it.
The air is crisp and crystal clear as it’s not yet cold enough for anyone to light their wood burning heaters. The sky is as blue as a sky should be when you take chocolate-box photos of pretty places. The trees that start to colour for autumn earlier than the rest are turning off their bioclocks, especially the Golden Ashes and the Pistaceas.
Maybe I can get outside in the late afternoon light and take a photo, just to show you the delicate gold of the ashes and the brilliant salmon colour of a few branches of the Pistacea against the olive green of the Claret Ashes. The turn of the well-named Claret Ashes comes later in the season, along with the Liquidambers and the Virginia Creepers that make the little chapel at Gostwyck so beautiful. The late summer grasses are turning from green to straw colour as they run up to seed, and the white wild daisies wave their heads in tune with the rhythm of the grasses as a slight breeze blows.
Mr Wordsworth had it right when he was wandering lonely as a cloud....
I am glad to have had the privilege of seeing another summer changing to autumn. I don’t want to destroy the chocbox view I've been describing by injecting into it the personal internal battles I was having this time last year, down in Melbourne – but it IS a year, and that’s a triumph for my family and friends, for medicine, for those who tended a stranger and a friend as their patient at hospitals and surgeries there and here.
Not once have I heard a cross word from any of them, only encouragement and compassion without over-sentimentality. They’ve stood back when I needed them to, been there if required. Throughout all this Tracey has epitomised all that generosity of spirit. Christian too, who has had to take on the roles I vacated so suddenly fifteen months ago. Neither of them has complained in my presence. They’ve borne things alone quite often, human shields, as my daughters and sisters and other family have done.
But you know, it’s more than a year since that December day in 2009. In fact, it’s now getting on to fifteen months. I am still here, battle weary but not quite beaten down. I can still think. I can still type with one hand. I can still write down my stories. I am not in pain for most of the time. I can still enjoy the company of friends when the time is right, or communicate with them in other ways. I can walk unaided and have a little more strength in my right arm. I celebrate all these.
I know from experience that things can and do change in a flash. I know when I play with the building blocks that they can come tumbling down no matter what hard work I and others have put into setting them up. I know how hard it can be to start all over again. I know things can and probably will take turns for the worse, perhaps suddenly. But right now I am alive and can make the best of things. I won’t even try to say thanks. Those who know me well enough know that I appreciate everything you’ve done.
As I said, it’s a beautiful day outside. Look at it, and enjoy it, even if you have problems and the view’s not so great from where you are. Things could be better for us all, but if you’re reading this now, I’ll bet you they could be a whole lot worse.
Time for me to rest now.