”My Australia, the one I grew up with, and whose light and weather and range of colour shaped my earliest apprehensions of the world, was not dry or grey-green: it was dense and luminous.’’  David Malouf, A First Place


I’m supposed to be doing admin but I keep looking outside. It has been raining over night and it’s cooler outside. We woke to a softer light. Not the harsh bright white of Australia but something closer to the filtered light and greens of England. My husband feels most at ease, happiest, more connected when the light is like this.

That’s not the effect rain is supposed to have on people. Generally people are happier and more energetic in the sunshine and become more introverted in rainy weather. My husband, however, is English. And what could be more English than rain?

It’s not the rain he is seeking, however, it’s the ambient light of the overcast sky.

We know that lighting affects cognitive functions and scientific studies have shown the background lighting can even influence how wine tastes. The same wine is rated higher when exposed to red or blue ambient light, rather than green or white light, according to researchers at the Institute of Psychology of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz Germany.
And light can trigger memory or change emotions in ways we don’t fully understand. Contrary to past research, brighter light actually intensifies both happiness and depression, while lower light will dampen those emotions, according to recent research at the University of Toronto and Northwestern University.
Australian author David Malouf, who turns 80 this week, believes in the power of light and memory: ”I think light is really important to us as a key to memory. Certainly for me its a key to memory,’’ he said during a radio interview on ABC Classic FM.
Malouf says that we are shaped by ‘’where we grow up — that first place we come from — its light, its climate, its changes over the day and over the year, which is the first experience we have of all those things.’’
The fluctuations of our natural environment become part of us, part of what links us to our memories, even if we’re not aware of it.
Like light, belonging comes in different shades. Some people don’t feel they belong even though they live in their home town because they feel out of step with their generation; others feel lost without a sense of community, traditions and history; some feel they don’t belong because they are deep thinkers who refuse to pander to the superficial aspects of modern society.

A rainbow polaroids itself from the trees into the clouds as my husband and I sip our morning coffee and tea on the balcony. It is a beacon of beauty.
It looks like the rainbows of my youth, but is it really?