Summer this year is the X on a treasure map: a spill of light and gold that we know is out there, but is proving impossible to find. It is buried under weeks of stone-greys and mizzling rains, the occasional glint of a sunny afternoon like a lone coin under a boot-heel. Where is the prize? The cache of gold mornings, the smelted afternoons, the doubloons of a hundred suns, glinting, glinting?
There is a heat that runs beneath the surface of the days, but the sky remains cloudy, and blank as a slate. It feels like living in the space between one thing and the next, the white empty place between parentheses. It feels like being the open eye between two blinks, looking and looking and seeing only the same grey horizon, never any closer, never any further away.
There are moments of loveliness. Golden hours scattered here and there like clues along the trail. Last night we sat in the fields while the sun blazed, watching the trees scatter light across the grass like breadcrumbs, like petals, like flung gleaming seeds. We drank beer and toasted, at last, to Summer. We sat until the evening deepened into dusk, and the birds quieted, and the bats came out to replace them, cleaving the air with their quick slicing flight until it seemed that the whole sky must rain down in a tatter of confetti, a shredded shower of stars, of night.
C asked, What is your favourite thing about the Summer? I knew, immediately. Those hours, early evening, after a long, hot day, when it's just beginning to blue and cool. The gloaming, they call it. A sort of early twilight. When the sky deepens into the most gorgeous, radiant blue, a blue I've never seen anywhere else in life, that I don't believe exists anywhere else - not in a Grecian sea, or on a butterfly wing, not in a pottery glaze, or the painted folds of the Virgin Mary's robes, or the gas-flame blaze of a lit Christmas pudding.
I said, simply, The evenings. When it's blue.
I saw a fox once, on one of those blue evenings. I was waiting for the train in the richness of that light, the hush of the notquitenightnotyet. She detached herself from the shadows between the tracks like a flame peeling off from a fire. Nose testing the air. Delicate steps, like a ballerina. I stood like stone, the only thing moving my hummingbird heart.
What can I tell you about a moment like that? The world compacts. Two points on a compass. Two creatures under the same sky breathing the same blue dark.
And then the train came, rattling the moon, and shattered that brief and blinkless world apart. I remember looking away for a second, looking back - and the wild thing was gone, dispersed like smoke, back to her nest of earth and birdbones, her cellar of tree-roots, her ceiling of moon and stars.
These are the moments I remember when the grey days smear and blur. The splashes of colour, the glimpses of treasure - red fox, blue dusk, bonewhite moon. The lovely hum of magic in the air.