Saturday August 14, 2004
The sun came out to play again today, burning fiercely in a brazen sky. It was more than powerful enough to harm exposed skin but we didn’t have to go anywhere, the humidity was bearable, and both of us had plenty of things to do so we stayed home, pottering in the garden morning and evening, and repairing to the house when the heat of the day dictated.
As we get close to the middle of August I’m less and less inclined to complain at the sun. Each time we get a sunny day now I enjoy it best I can, conscious that it could be the last of the hot summer days and that, in a couple of months, I shall be looking back on them with longing. Gather ye rosebuds, that’s what I say. Just be sure to wear a sunhat and a long-sleeved high-collared shirt while you do it.
It will be good to reach the more moderate days of the end of summer and move into early autumn. I’ve just about conquered the operation of the new camera and am ready to hop into the car and go out and about in search of landscape pictures. The bike will come out of the garage, too, and I shall resume my regular cycle riding at least until the bad weather settles in for the winter. Even then there will be dry, clement days when I’ll be able to enjoy whizzing along the lanes. I’m not inclined to take the new camera out on the bike for fear of dropping it. My pencam is smaller, lighter, and less of a worry should it be damaged.
Graham has started studying the brochures and websites for wallpaper strippers and flooring alternatives. This is ominous. I reckon that as soon as things cool down enough he’ll be turning rooms out, one at a time, and doing the transformation job he’s been building up to in the four and a half months we’ve been here.
Today he went out to tread the grass in the solemn ritual of the gardener who wants to mow. He had an earnest consultation with G. next door, and they came to the joint conclusion that it’d be better to leave to dry for another day. While they were talking G. was cropping his row of runner beans, and Graham came back into the house bearing a great bundle of the delights. You know you’ve reached the peak of the garden vegetable season when the runner beans arrive.
I cannot honestly remember anything I did of note. Except to look at the sky, sit in the shade, and listen to the birds. A bevvy of blackbirds were working the still-damp grass, pulling out nice juicy worms and munching them with great enjoyment. Greedy blighters, blackbirds. I watched one that had caught a particularly large and wriggly earthworm but couldn’t manage to eat it. So he took it up to the roof and sat there with the worm dangling from his beak until his digestion had made room for the unfortunate creature whereupon he flipped it up and downed it in one gulp like a gourmand slurping an oyster from the shell. Then he took to his wings and staggered half-drunken into the sky in pursuit of the next morsel. Sometimes I wonder that blackbirds manage to fly at all when they are feeding well. Gourmands, of course, seldom fly no matter what the circumstance.
So, the evening came along, cooling rapidly, and the light went all soft and crepuscular over the fields. I turned the pump off and wandered out to give the fishes their evening meal, standing to watch as they did their hungry piranha act, churning the surface of the pond into a splashy turmoil. Then, satisfied, they sank to the bottom, the surface stilled and, as the last of the sunlight disappeared, the pond came momentarily to resemble a precious gem, seeming to reflect more light than was in the sky. The day has to be right for this, and the evening perfectly balanced, but it’s worth waiting for the precise instant of stillness before the stars come out and the pond is just a pond once more. This visual zenith of the pond’s daily cycle doesn’t last long, but it’s a good thing to witness.