I'd forgotten about Autumn in Armidale. It is by far my favourite time of year in my hometown, and if you stick around I'll tell ya why.
You know how there's a saying someone said once about not noticing things that are right in front of you? When I left home at 18 for the big city of Melbourne, I wasn't particularly caught up in seasons or country air or any of the like. I imagined bulk coffeeshops and walks through a city full of strangers, tram rides and smog and all kinds of glamourous stuff like that. Melbourne had a bit to offer in the way of autumn, but as far as deciduous trees lined up in rows along the streets, turning red and yellow, the parts of Melbourne I knew had nothing on home.
When I moved to Canada, ironically this time to escape the strangers and smog (but I'll love coffee and trams forever, I swear) I didn't think to look for Autumn. Instead there was Fall, and it was cold and rainy. Constant rain for days, unlike anything I'd ever seen. In Australia, any wet weather passes before too long, but in Canada, weeks might pass between bursts of direct sunlight. Rain turned to first snow before the end of October and the anticipation of winter was palpable. So Fall was something to live through rather than a season I noticed.
It's my first full Autumn in Armidale since I was in my last year of high school, 10 years ago this year (I know this because we have a 10 year reunion this year, which is a scary business). It's been 10 years since I've seen the leaves change. The days get visibly shorter; the air gets noticeably cooler, and the smell of fallen leaves is everywhere. I forgot that fallen leaves have a smell, and it's a smell that makes me remember raking up piles of leaves under an oak tree at my granny's house and jumping off a low branch right into them. There are photos of us as kids half buried in leaves, full of grins and simple pleasure. Nothing has been quite so satisfying since then, not in that same uncomplicated way anyhow.
I've been struggling a little with committing to Armidale for the past few months, feeling a desire to escape back out into the world. Some bit of my brain believes I'm on a search for the place a belong, but I know that really there's plenty of places I could belong, if only I'd allow it. Or maybe I'm just wishing for the kind of home I wrote about last year.
As I drove away from work today, at the top of north hill the sky opened up into this beautiful pink sunset. I've seen some nice sunsets in my time, but I have to say that this part of the world does the best I've seen so far.
Just for a second (and it was such a long second) things were perfect. The leaves were red and yellow, the sky was pink. I wanted to take a photo, but instead I decided to take on the challenge of using my words.
Maybe I don't know much, but I know about how love feels. And that second, it felt a little bit like that.