Last night…

The benefits of standing barefoot in the garden in the rain are not to be underestimated. The decking, rain-slicked yet still holding some of the day’s warmth, and flecked with fallen rose petals; the pergola, smothered with hundreds of tiny, dark pink roses; lemon balm and thyme spill over from their respective pot and bed, a warmly medicinal scent, clean against the deeper sweetness of honeysuckle and philadelphus. All these things offer a simple restorative to a turbulent mind – and especially if one manages to avoid treading on a slug – when night thoughts grow too dark to bear.

But there is something better. To stand in the garden, skin bare to the night rain’s cold caresses, roused to a state of almost wanton wakefulness, is both stimulating and soothing, as I discovered last night. And if it rains again tonight, do not doubt but that I will be doing it again.

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Barefoot days

One of the things I love about good summer weather is being able to go barefoot – all day, if I don’t need to leave the house. The feeling of hot wooden decking beneath my feet as I hang out the laundry, and the garden scents swirling around me; roses, clematis, wisteria, aqualegia… but no honeysuckle, yet. It’s late this year, and I miss it dreadfully. Nothing quite fills the senses like woodbine does, coiling in clasping tendrils around the pergola, scrambling over the fence, clambering up the walls, its golden trumpets delicate, but never shy. Its time will come, and soon, I hope. In the meantime the wisteria does its best to make up for it, and makes my head swim like wine when I open the windows, laced with cut grass from the larger gardens, and the park… intoxicating!

Despite the golden days, and warmer nights, the black bitch Depression still slyly bites, every now and then. And there doesn’t seem to be much that I can do about it, at the moment, except to endure it. Or sleep through it. Not that I mean to sound defeatist – I certainly don’t want  to beaten by this thing! – but somehow it seems harder to be in the dark, when there’s all this gorgeous light around me. And yet, summer is the time of deeper shadows, lasting longer… seeing the Hockney exhibition in March made me appreciate that; his paintings of the same place viewed through the changing seasons, the changing light, and shadows.

But there are plenty of things to look forward to. I’ll be running away for a long weekend with friends in Scotland next month, for a start. And this Sunday I’m taking part in the Stroud Short Stories Site festival event. Which I’m quite excited about. And nervous. Very nervous. Oh yes, and last week I had another flash fiction (200 words, the shortest thing I’ve written so far) accepted by Ether Books. Which made me squeak with happiness. It’s called ‘Bread and Olives’, if you fancy downloading it to your smart phone or iPad. And that’s enough shameless self-promotion for now. I need to go and breathe in the garden.

Rain, or How I’ve Always Loved English Summers

You can’t talk about the weather in England at this time of year without someone complaining about the rain. (As a matter of fact it is a truth universally accepted that you can’t talk about the weather in England at any time of year without someone complaining about it being too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too anything, even when seasonal: it’s supposed to snow in winter for fucks sake.) But rain, summer rain, can be a fine thing. Yes all right, the rain in 2007 was a little excessive in these parts, but I am getting to my point. Who has not felt the gently smug animal comfort of lying in bed, drowsing on the edge of deeper sleep, and listening to the thrumming of cloudfall on roof and window? A night-pleasure for every season, intensified in summer when lying there with the window open. Then the circle of sensory pleasure is completed by being able to smell the rain on the warm earth, with the ever-present top notes of honeysuckle, roses, cut grass, and in earlier summer, philadelphus. Only in the licentious heat of summer is the scent of rain truly intoxicating. For of course, warmth is the key. Who would want to splash barefoot across a rain soaked lawn in any other season? Too cold, too cold! Who would willingly forego the protection of coat or umbrella to stand or dance in a heavy rainfall in spring, or autumn, or winter? But when the skies burst, and cool the humid fug of sticky heat with heavy drops like freshwater pearls, that drench the air, my skin, my hair, and cleanse away the drier scents of dust and faded greenery, then is summer magic indeed, the obverse of the coin of long hours of heat, and light, and blue blue skies. There is romance in summer rain, and lust, and the perfect pleasure of simple sensuality, sun-warmed skin and sweat, rain-slicked and refreshed.