The long, summer days have come to an end. The clocks have gone back, the days are shorter and the town quiets down. The bathing suit clad backpackers have retreated from the lake and moved onto the next place. The foot paths through the parks carry more fallen leaves than people now. They roll across the asphalt and keep a steady pace with me as I walk.
Some of the trees have started to change color, but not all. Those that do pop up and splash images of fire and passion into my mind. Fingery leaves of bright yellow dotted with green touch the sky. Red crisp leaves set the branches ablaze. These trees I see everyday have changed now, and my eyes and thoughts linger there as I walk by.
The days have turned cool and gloomy. Clouds hang low all the time, similar to the heavy thoughts in my mind. The lake is a constant ash grey and flat blue. It laps upon the shore in a quiet way. The fat ducks stand on the shore and stare, missing the tourists that kept them plump. As I stand next to them and look out they glance up hopefully, meet my eyes, and then look back out, accepting the time of plentiful bread crumbs is over for a while.
When the sun does come out it does in patches, breaking free from the thick grey soup inthe sky. The sun chooses to shine on the yellow trees on the hillside. It looks like the land is burning from the brightness. My heart reaches out to these spots, still amazed by the pure simple beauty of it. It’s been 2 ½ years since I arrived and I am still awestruck that a landscape could hold such a power over me. Sometimes I just become so wrapped up in petty problems that I forget to look.
The mountains are always here but are often sheltered by the clouds. They look like a soft blanket, surrounding and comforting them. Cooling them down from the constant harsh sun of the summer. Sometimes the clouds on the Remarkable Mountains retract slightly and I see snow has now fallen. White lines highlight the mountains’ best features that were lost during the summer. I recall the excitement I felt the first time I saw them this way. Now I quietly welcome an old friend back.
So begins my third autumn in Queenstown. Every year I think it will be the last, and yet here I still am. In a month and a half winter will be upon us. The yellow and red leaves will be gone, the air cooler and the mountain snow thicker. Town will pick up again with skiers and snowboarders. Until then I linger in this quiet moment where I get to feel like I am home again. Almost.