Spring comes ugly to the pinoaks in Canberra, Australia. Walking my sister’s little dog down the street – stopping every three houses so she can pee and scratch in the fallen leaves – I pass under their tattered canopy, rust-brown leaves dripping like beggar’s rags from their old man branches. It’s October – spring here, fall on the other side of the sphere. By November the first green shoots push through last year’s corpses; the elderly dog has a new prance in her step. And finally, in December, the trees burst into their brief heyday… it’s too hot to walk the dog.
And on to March, and autumn. Fall, as they call it up-top. Now, finally, the pinoaks have their late splendor, red-gold like kings at a coronation, now they burn and dazzle…and then they wither again, preparing for snows that never fall, and neither do they.
Perhaps I’m a pinoak. Blooming too late, a long fade into obscurity. Never learning what to let go, and when.
I’ve been wondering for a while if I should stop writing, being a writer. After all, there’s the garden to be tended, the children to be worried about – the books to be read! Other people’s books, so much finer than mine will ever be. Maybe like the pinoaks I had my summer, so fast I barely noticed it, and on to winter without a pause, browning off into old age. Writing – sometimes I feel I can’t do it, like someone who dreams of being an actress and ends up serving coffee in the studio cafeteria. What’s the use of writing, when you can’t write – and if I can’t write, what’s the use of me?
But then I finish the heavy thriller I’ve been working on – writing, not reading – and autumn in all its blazing enthusiasm rushes upon me. Ideas for novels hang fire on my limbs – daring, bold ideas that I must make real now or else I’ll be afraid of them. I’m in the mood to finish things I started years ago in my bleak spring and hazy summer, I’m in the mood for things that trip and bounce off my pen, I’m in the mood to be serious – what the heck don’t care if you like it or hate it serious – I’m in the mood to burn you right up!
But I must be quick. Winter is coming.