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« Bracing ourselves | Main | Spiritual decluttering »

The last garden

This time of year, the ornamental vines on our west-facing verandah are a glorious riot of scarlet and every possible shade of deep pink. Our entire living area is bathed in glowing red light, especially late afternoon, when it feels as though there is a bonfire in the back garden.  

Since we put the clocks back, I am barely at home in daylight hours during the week. On Saturday and Sunday, however, I have been trying to stop my chores, make myself a mug of tea and just sit and take it in, this wild extravagance of colour, which only lasts a week or two before the branches become bare.

My enjoyment of our creeper is particularly heartfelt this year, as it may be our last autumn in this house where the family has lived for the last two decades. It might be our last autumn with a garden at all.

Like so many other baby boomers heading for retirement, we are downsizing. This time next year, we will be, if not actually in a small apartment, then in the throes of moving there.

The building site is two kilometres away, and I wander up each week to keep an eye on proceedings. The first sod has well and truly been turned and the corner block is a cacophony of cranes and trucks, earth movers and pile drivers.

It’s exciting and terrifying in equal measure. This next 12 months, my main task, when all the urgent things have been attended to, is to work through every object and item of clothing and piece of paper in the house and decide whether it is a keeper, or something to give to the offspring, the op shop or the tip. It will take a year; I want to do it thoughtfully and we need to get rid of a lot of stuff.

But no matter how organised I am, I know it will be hellish towards the end, as all moves are – an emotional and physical ordeal. I know I will get to the new place and unpack the boxes and wonder why on earth we kept this possession or that. I know we still have too many things, that we won’t fit into the comparatively tiny spaces.

And the garden. Last time we were without one was 35 years ago. It’s hard to imagine not having the pressure and the delight that comes with a little patch of dirt to call our own. It’s hard to imagine no longer being curtained with a fiery waterfall every autumn.

This was published in The Melbourne Age on Monday 20 May

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Reader Comments (1)

I too have an ornamental grapevine Clare. It sets my heart ablaze each year with it’s fiery display and in the gifting of leaves each time I step out onto the deck. My family think my daily exclamations are hilarious but I simply can’t help the joy rising up with each individual and unique leaf! This year I have also been reflecting on my life with the autumnal images of treasuring what has been, the ‘letting go’ and releasing what has served it’s right timing and now the pruning back in preparation for the budding of a new season. And I wonder if perhaps these images resonate with your season too?

May 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJo Lewis

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