The last few days in Brisbane have been heavenly following last week’s onslaught of storms. Without a doubt it’s my favourite time of year in the river city. The lilac jacarandas are in their last fluttering days, frangipanis of every variety are flourishing, poincianas flare across the bright skies and the scent of orange jasmine on the evening breeze is just intoxicating.
It’s such a stark contrast to the white and grey of winter in Newfoundland or the drab despair of life on the Western Front, nearly 100 years ago, as revealed in this letter from one my characters in Seldom Come By:
Today I found myself walking through the ruins of a small French town, now just crumbling facades. Here, you are reminded that war kills much more than just human lives. All the vegetation – trees, grass and plants – is completely destroyed. The roads and other infrastructure have become totally non-existent.
Mom, it reminds me of a painting you have in that book from the Hudson River School – the one of Monument Valley. I saw a solitary stairwell, still intact, leading skyward like a timeworn tower of Arizona rock.
My memory of that collection is that the power and beauty of nature was manifest. Here it is the power and destruction of man and machine. Those artists with their rich pallets brought the colours of the distinctly American landscape to life. Here the colours are all muted spliced with the sanguine of blood. How I long to see a garden bursting into bloom.
Your faraway Matthew x
This is for you…