The sound of lawn-mowers eating up and belching out grass resonates in the air like a badly-conducted chorus. The dissonance is welcome, however. The sudden, almost simultaneous act of weeding our gardens amongst my neighbours responds more to urgency than willing agency. The ubiquitous presence of late-summer rain in the last few weeks has halted our ritual of fortnight grass-cutting. Like a long mane that has not been treated to its regular short-back-and-sides, trimming becomes more an act of desperation than an ornamental observance.
I finish my garden chores before the others. I want to go for a run. The temperature is still pleasant, neither too hot as it was at the tail end of August, nor autumnal chilly yet. I do spot, though, low-flying, Dalmatian-like clouds with a grey so dark that you could dip a fountain pen in them and write your name on a blue sky that is fast becoming overcast.
As soon as I finish my warm-up I set off. The cacophonous sound of the lawn-mowers fades away. In its place a beautiful spectacle opens up before me: I call it a pre-autumn urban display. One minute patches of the pavement are bathed in sunshine the next covered up in shadow. Further along, the industrial estate that borders my neighbourhood becomes an unintentional background for the first auburn/burgundy/hazel/russet hues. Autumn is not here yet, but it is already trying to break through the cracks on the walls.
The scant light changes as a result of my motion and this causes the colours to which I am exposed become more or less intense. Pace, not speed, I keep reminding myself, as I suddenly feel the exertion of a long steep hill. I think of a camera but my eyes disabuse me of the idea pretty quickly. There is no better camera than the human memory when confronted by a sea of flowers that flanks me on either side and has benefitted from the recent rains. My path turns into road and switches back to pavement as I return home and the first drop falls on my nose.
Next Post: “Saturday Evenings: Stay In, Sit Up and Switch On”, to be published on Saturday 26th September at 6pm (GMT)