For me, it is not Spring, but Autumn and Winter that form my season of creativity. I have no idea why this is. It seems as though the rest of the world is full of new life in the Spring. Is it because I’m an October baby, my life naturally cycles from Autumn onwards? Or because when we lived in Brisbane, October was in the Spring? But how can five years there undo the habits of the other fifty-two years I’ve lived in the Northern Hemisphere? So I don’t know why, but this is not the season for rest and consolidation, but of flights of imagination taking wings.
New ideas are taking shape, even before the old ideas have been put to bed. I’m thinking about what I want to say in a new story. And I’m clueless about a title, although I have a couple of alternatives to ponder. I’m drawn to old stuff, I’m drawn to the past. I’m thinking of all the Summer of Love protest songs, but no, they are all too recent, I want to go further back.
I’m thinking about rural things, villages, fields, water, trees. I’m thinking of sorrow and haunting, of deeds never talked of, of the guilty secrets of the past. I’m thinking of shame and sacrifice, I’m humming old pastoral songs and rhymes, of Scarborough Fair, of the occasional duplicitous nature of the minstrel, wandering, legitimately able to plant one foot in each camp, never on any side but his own.
I’m thinking of myths and legends, hills cloaked in mist, an unseen bird calling in the gloom, of the soft insinuating sound of the wind. I’m thinking about the returning home of the prodigal, about how we carry the past with us, inside, even when we are looking forward and moving on. I’m thinking too of that moment when you come home and you know someone else has been there. Someone who shouldn’t have been there. Your house feels guilty, complicit, hushed as if someone had been speaking and just this moment stopped when the door opened.
I’m thinking of The Waste Land by T S Eliot. I remember snatches of it: ‘Speak to me./Why do you never speak?’ And ‘What is that noise?/The wind under the door.’ Or, ‘I remember/Those are pearls that were his eyes.’
I am thinking, staring at the falling leaves, driven across the grass by a pushing wind, and I am thinking of long ago, of people who may not have existed, but who may come into being in my imagination. I am thinking of a man at a window staring out, his mind working on things he cannot put into words. I’m thinking of a woman, always waiting, wringing her hands in front of the window, her own shadow on the lamplit stones of the yard.
I’m thinking of a boy coming over the hill. Of grass, green, long, dewy. Of the sun, soft, golden, gentle as a mother’s hand, just touching his hair, his shoulder. How long has he been away? How much has changed? Will anything ever change?
‘Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,/And all the air a solemn stillness holds.’ Thomas Gray’s Elegy. Like our current season, in my story it always seems to be unchanging, endless night.