A sunny Sunday!
Warm, calm, balmy – and hardly believable. SUNSHINE!
Not that we’ve quite adjusted yet. Sunshades were still down outside our local pubs as I passed this lunchtime; bare, unprepared heads reddening around the beer garden tables; unprotected eyes squinting at ill-chosen coffees. The pub menus were behind the times too. Propped proudly at the roadside, they still offered hot roasts and steamed puds to huddle over – guaranteed hits ’til today.
I pictured panic-stricken proprietors dashing into town in search of lettuce; barmen scurrying from tap to freezer with ice cube trays; chefs racking their brains for summer dishes; gardeners called in at short notice to get deluge-damaged gardens in order.
It was over an armful of discarded winter woollies that I viewed these anachronisms and dreamed up these emergency adjustments. Yes, I was as unprepared as the rest, trudging past on swollen feet in sweltering wellies. I’d set out in need of a leg-stretch, but returned more in need of a stretcher.
After staggering round the house in a futile hunt for sun cream, sunglasses, sun hat or even sandals, I surrendered, defenceless, to the hammering heat of our garden – last week’s lake. So this was summer, was it? Memories of my previous 54 came drifting back as I sank down on the lawn in semi-stupefied state. (The patio chairs needed major de-cobwebbing, I’d discovered.)
Oh… but I’d forgotten other things too: the drone of neighbouring lawn mowers, the roar of hedge trimmers, the growl of tree loppers, the scream-wail-choke-shriek-snarl of a street’s-worth or worse of furious strimmers, and these ones had a muddy month’s worth to get their teeth into.
But when every lawn – except ours – had received its belated haircut, and every driveway had been scoured like a washboard, and every hedge sheered to within an inch of its life, and silence reigned at last, I remembered what July was for. It was for this: this sun-drunk, sky-wide dusk, still as a picture, yet a-float with honeyed fragrances and powder-soft hues, with tiny, quivering wings flitting between velvet petals, with the hushed, idle purr of high plane or far car – a-float with the timeless luxury of summer.
I thought of Philip Larkin’s much-loved phrase in his poem, ‘The Trees’:
‘The trees are coming into leaf/Like something almost being said’.
Our garden is coming into summer, and something in the air seems to be saying: ‘Celebrate!’
(More occasional thoughts on Twitter @KatyPoet)