Larnook. Monday, 5.50pm
When I get home, I must send off that email – oh, and I have two phone calls to make. (Really should have done them yesterday.) And then dinner. Got to buy some more rice at the –
Check out the golden trees beside the road. They’re flickering like lit candles blown about by birthday wind.
A few weeks ago these trees were nondescript: smudges of blue-green foliage closeted among other blue-green smudges, noticeable only by a silver hue to their blue.
But I knew then that these trees, hiding in their forest closet, were just biding their time.
For decades I have rumbled up this road in a variety of four- and two-wheeled contraptions: a HZ Kingswood with a coathanger through the grille, a 1969 R60 BMW motorbike with a death wobble at 60mph, a Camira with such a malleable frame a different door would stick or unstick with every bump, and a rusty Hi-Ace with enough bed room for a party of three (yeeha!).
But I have never stopped for the trees.
For decades I have rumbled up this road, noting the whereabouts of the silvery silky oaks loitering among the eucalypts and exotics. They wait for the warmer weather that comes when the planet thrusts its pelvis to the sun, then a hundred Grevillea robusta come out as dazzling divas, their gold flamboyance anchoring the sunset to Earth as I barrel home from Lismore.
But even then I have never stopped. Too busy. I have money to make, beers to drink, sleeps to sleep, a routine to follow. I never stop. Never.
On impulse, I pull the Subaru off the bitumen, skidding to a rather precarious stop beside a Coke bottle in a drain. Across the road is a silky oak, shimmering in the sunset like a drag queen shimmying, glamorous in gold lamé and silver sequins. This hill is her stage; the road her audience, and I her admirer.
Routines are chains, hobbling us with mental links forged in fear. They stop us from stopping. Stop us from really living. They keep us safe and numb.
I never stop. I have things to do. A garden to water, a sadness to avoid. Stopping here is not on my list.
But a silky siren calls.
I cross the road to touch the golden tree. I’m not sure why, but I do. Maybe because touching this tree has no point. Maybe because freedom serves no purpose. Maybe just because the tree is beautiful…
My daily routine doesn’t involve a lot of exercise. I don’t go to the gym because I’m allergic to television and lycra. I don’t run because I have a car. I don’t even walk now I have moved my toilet inside. (Yes, I know it’s a disgusting concept, but that’s the modern way.)
So I don’t deftly duck under the fence; I inelegantly stumble through it, catching my best pants on the rusty barbs. My stylish leather deck shoes have no tread, so after freeing myself from the fence, I slip and fall on my bum.
It’s a shock. A slap. I’m smacked into life. I lose unconsciousness.
Something long locked up, but now knocked free, wells up inside me like a methane bubble. It feels like a memory, something I once knew. It’s happy and sad. It hurts magnificently.
This emotion with no name bursts from me, making a sound like a sob but leaves me grinning.
In the golden light of the last moments, sprawled under Ms Robusta’s luminescent skirt, I reach out to touch her fine trunk, to love her. For no reason.