In autumn, colours change

There’s a couple outside my book shop. They are standing at the kerb looking into the boot of their car. She has lost her bag.

 ‘I’m looking. I’m looking.’

She has striped hair; pink, purple, white and silver and it is beautiful. Her shoes look like running shoes, and they are striped with pink, purple, white and silver.’

She says, ‘Give me the keys.’ He does. She disappears along the street. He comes into the shop. He says, ‘I’m retired now, and I have a shed full of engineering books where I spend all my time. There’s not enough time.’

He muzzles along the shelves for a while. ‘Very nice here. What made you do this then?’

‘Don’t know really.’ I have to put down Elizabeth Jolly to answer. Elizabeth Jolley has just said that old age is like flipping  over pages in a book at a deafening rate and not reading any of them. I am shocked because this is true.

‘Don’t really know.’

‘Well. It’s nice here.’

Suddenly his wife blooms against the door with a sacred pink purple white and silver presence.

He shouts, ‘Are you lost, lady?’

‘I’ve just been over the lady’s toilets over there. I have to tell you what I saw.’

It’s cold. Her breath frosts on the door. They leave.

Yesterday at home I noticed that the windows have changed colour. I mean, the glass in the door holds different colours because it’s autumn. Maybe the light has a different angle. Maybe the temperature of the light is different. It was morning when I looked at the glass. Hot grape becomes cool rose. Thick sage thins. Hot lemon chills to its rind. Pink fades and becomes tough. I look at these pieces of glass all the time. With Elizabeth Jolley.

I went walking. It rained a bit. There is only six minutes to the edge of town. Then it’s paddocks.

On the way back through the short streets I saw the empty wheelie bins wearing their lids like yellow capes down their backs, and they sit there, mouths open drinking in rain that lands in their bin throats with tiny fast liquidy thumps.

A  man is standing at the counter in the shop in front of me with Gail Godwin. I say, ‘Oh, she’s GREAT’. He asks me for Haruki Murakami because ‘He’s GREAT. Look what HE does with reality.’ I say, ‘Oh yes’. And decide to start reading Haruki Murakami. The man stands there beaming. There are no words to explain Haruki Murakami. This man has grey hair, worn long, and he wears a sapphire blue sweater and good boots.

In autumn where I live, the evenings are grey like steel and beautiful.

In autumn, unnecessary belongings start bothering decent spaces. We sort and prune like mad. I fill the green wheelie bin’s mouth with green stemmy food.

The grape vine is as yellow as a pair of bananas. Soft, and with conversations going on in black ink.

It’s not possible to keep up with autumn. The windows are an authority on what’s out there. Each colour has an opinion.

On this day

A day when ordinary things happen. The ordinary lives come past my windows and in and out of the door and show some of their scratches and gardens. A lady came in with her husband and bought a book for her adult son – it is for his research. She is going to photograph the pages and email them to him. On the way out she said, ‘There. That’s my good deed. I can help him. He was really please about this book. I could tell.’

Her husband, the father, nodded. They turned toward the bakery, both of them looking pleased and happy. I could see them still talking and nodding down at the book in her hand.

An older lady lifted her shopping high on either side of her to jog across the road in the rain. Her shopping bag, her handbag, her hat, her shoulders, all jogged up and down, the mother ship making for the coast, not fast but accurate.  The cars slowed down. There, on the kerb, was her group, all cheering.

Someone shouted, ‘You’re game Eddie!’ And they gathered around her, took her bags, brushed off the dust of the journey, admiring, adoring.

A young man strode past, banging the windows of the bakery, banging on my windows, shouting and furious, ‘Fucking fuck. Ten o’clock and no food.’ He was leaning forward, walking fast, and betrayed already at only 10am.

A grandfather bought his granddaughter three books. She said, ‘I love this series.’ She looked at her grandfather. He said to me, ‘She’s a reader. She’s a real reader. Better than me.’ He presented the money, still looking at me, and swayed slightly, unable to balance the pride.

When they left she linked her arm tightly through his.

Painting by Marcel Rieder (1862-1942)

Winter’s come back

Inge Look

A couple visiting the shop, said to me, ‘Warm in here!’

I said, ‘It is, I have the heater on today.’ They hunched their shoulders and laughed loud enough to startle everyone nearby. One of them shouted, ‘Winter’s come back.’

They shrugged down into their coats to show they were warm. They went up and down on their toes, screwed up their eyes as though looking into the rain, and said, ‘Well, it takes all weathers!’

Then they took The Gardener’s Guide to Dahlias, and launched easily back out into the cold. Then I heard them say, ‘Now for lunch!’

Outside, in it

Rain.png

Outside in the street it is hard and cold and silver, people come through the door, outlined in rain, they apologise for the rain and try to shut the door quickly, which is impossible.
A visitor said: beautiful weather. We’ve just come from Ireland.
There is a small group of ladies in here, all come off the train. One of them raps sharply on the window to her friends going past outside and their heads swing around rapidly, looking through glass at the sound but they walk faster and don’t stop. The lady looks at them going past and tells her friend next to her that Maureen is deaf.
Another man, who has been looking for train books shoulders back out into the freeze, he calls back: we’re working on the crossing so can’t stay but I’ve a grandson, three years old, need some books, as many as possible. Then he is gone.

There is the sound of falling books in the back room, cascading for ages, and voices raised, softly alarmed. A man says – well done dear. This man tells me later that he has re-written Shakespeare, in better English so that now the young people will read it, for once.
A lady demonstrated her fold up bag for me. She has bought Olivia for her granddaughter and she folds it up in the fold up bag along with the kale and the eggs and her friend said: that’s a good bag, Brenda!
A lady said that she and her husband used to be English teachers and that it is tragic the way that young people no longer read. I said that around here, they do. She said that she doubts it.
A young woman told me about Rumi and Tagore, told me softly how they are everything in the world.
Outside it continues gray and cold, the tradesmen jog past the window, they balance pies and coffees and a hunched posture because it is so cold. One young man says into his phone: well it’s fuckin’ windy, so no. Then he throws his phone on the back seat of his car.

People hold the door open to look in and tell me that is cold. One lady said bless this weather my dear!
I am asked for Elizabeth Jolly’s Cosmo Cosmolino.

A young man buys a copy of The Complete Stories of O’Henry with microscopic print.
The old ladies in the back room with the good fold up bag are nodding over Stephen King, they are doubtful of the content, still, they might get one for a granddaughter.
A young man passes the windows rapidly, he is pushing a wheelchair. He says: I love books, I could read them all the time. The person in the wheelchair, an older man with a beret says: for God’s sake, not in there and they continue past and do not look in.
An old lady enters rapidly, she is from the train and has lost all her friends, thank God for that. Now she’ll just have a look around if that’s ok with me.

A young girl tells me that at Woodchester there was a rainbow and that she was outside in it.