Caged memories

May 20, 2014

Tasmanian only has one small deciduous shrub — nothofagus gunnii / Deciduous Beech — whose tiny leaves turn golden yellow in the autumn of our southern hemisphere year. It is alpine and grows far from where I live on the coast.

If I want to witness a change of colour at Windgrove, I must go inside the three caged sanctuaries of the possum proof—wallaby proof gardens.

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The large garden has two apple trees and they are now beginning to drop their leaves in preparation for their winter dormancy. What few leaves there are at the base of the tree is enough to spark my imagination and I’m back on my childhood street of Grixdale in Detroit sixty years ago kicking and running through mountainous piles of elm leaves that had been first raked off the lawn and then placed ceremoniously at the street’s curb before being ritually set afire. Smoke lingers in my clothes for days.

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In a smaller dome, the leaves of the blueberry bushes are nothing if not vibrant even though their startling reds signal each leaf’s death throe. May I go out in such grandeur, visibly standing proud in the autumn of my years.

Knelling down and touching these leaves, my imagination once again carries me back into the Michigan forest where dormant blueberry bushes (we called them huckleberry) were trod upon as my mother and I went searching for deer with our bow and arrows. She, Artemis, with a 55 pound bow; me, the novice in training, barely able to pull back a 25 pound bow.

During deer season, the smell of rain moistened decay of the deciduous undergrowth is etched upon one’s sensory memories never to be forgotten. Even now, when I take an autumn walk beneath the Hobart Botantical Garden’s avenue of birch trees, I’m fifty years younger.

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Oh, the flag of autumn. How glorious you are.

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