Monday, October 6, 2008

Autumn Attitude

I just celebrated – if that’s the right word – my 40th birthday. It’s somewhat depressing to know that, when my novel tops the national bestseller list and Spielberg buys the film rights, no one is going to say “And she’s so young!” as I had once dreamed.

I commented to my Dearest Hubby that I felt I was now at the Autumn of my life. Spring is 0-20, the years of gambolling lambs, budding beauty and moments of tentative brightness. Summer is from 20-40, when the flowers are in full glorious bloom, life abounds, and the sunshine is perpetual and confident. (Any fellow Brits reading this, please remember that this is a metaphor, and not in any way based on the reality of the British Summer.)

Autumn is those years from 40-60 when things become colder, plans have to be abandoned because of rain, and inexorable night draws ever nearer. As for Winter – well, I’ll expand on that particular misery twenty years from now.

Hubby Dearest responded to these words by pointing to his full head of hair and saying “Do I look as though the leaves are falling off?” I resisted the urge to point out that they were definitely changing colour.

In order to cope with the awfulness of this milestone, I decided to spend the dreaded day somewhere wonderful. So, on the date in question, I was on the Spanish island of Majorca, where it was hot and sunny, and I spent the day eating too much food, none of which I had to cook or clean up myself, and lazing on sunbeds by the hotel pool, and on the beach. I may even have paddled in the meditteranean sea.

Part - and only a small part at that - of the reason for returning to Majorca was to research a novel I have almost completed. It is set on the island, and I wanted to check that I have all the details right since it has been four years since I was last there. So we hired a car for a day and went to visit the Caves of Drach, where I have set a dramatic chase scene, and the pearl factory in Manacor. Last time I was in Manacor we watched the world's finest faux pearls being made by hand, repeatedly dipped, dried and polished. We walked down the production line seeing the skilled craftsmen and women at work, and at the end there was the opportunity to buy one of those pearls we had just seen created.

I was disappointed to discover that the factory is now little more than two floors of huge pearl showrooms selling what HD described as "Outrageously expensive fake jewellery" beautifully presented in very cleverly lit glass cases. A couple of machines are roped off forlornly in the corner, but it seems that the actual production has been mechanised and is no longer available to entertain the tourists. So scratch that chapter, then.

Even before Mamma Mia made it popular again I always loved the Abba song "Slipping through my Fingers" and I always cried when I listened to the words, especially these:

"Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time."

Things change with time. People get older, pearl factories become showrooms, husbands go grey. It's a sad fact of life, but perhaps I can cope with being 40 by accepting that the best things in life are eternal. And always being beautifully presented and cleverly lit.


Cheri J. Crane said...

Anna, you make me smile . . . and laugh. =) Great blog. And I agree, change is a huge part of life. When I was quite young, I never really contemplated how wonderful it would be to become a grandmother. People who were grandmothers were "old." Now that I'm 47 and a new grandmother, I like to think of myself not as old, but wise . . . somewhat . . . on a good day when the grey cells work, but I digress.

Jeri Gilchrist said...

Great blog, Anna! One thing we can always depend on is change. (Your husband isn't the only one with grey hair- - I bet I could shock you all. Thank goodness for Lady Clairol!) Just a note on the side... I'd keep the pearl making scene, even if it isn't done that way anymore. I think it sounds really charming.

Jennie said...

I'm glad you had a great time on that Spanish Island. It sounds delightful. However forty isn't the end of the world, it's just the beginning of the next wonderful phase of your life. Every age has its bonuses and a few disappointments. The trick is to keep your attitude young.

Michele Ashman Bell said...

Oh Anna, what a beautiful blog. Your writing was lovely and visual. I will have to google these places you wrote about because they sound so wonderful and exotic. As for growing older, that only happens on the outside. The inside is as young as you want it to be.

Stephanie Black said...

Loved the blog, Anna--and happy birthday! I'm just one year behind you :)And frankly, I like being older. I would definitely not want to be eighteen again (though I'd be happy to reclaim that high youthful metabolism where I could eat anything I wanted and not show it!).

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Wow, Stephanie, I agree! I'm right there with you. I turn 40 next July and I have to say I wouldn't go back for anything!

Anna, I can't wait for your book to come out. You string words together so beautifully- the process of reading your writing is a joy in itself.

And I so want to go to Majorca now!