Friday, June 04, 2010

A Piece of Summer

Today, I found someone's afternoon. They had lost it. It was a beautiful one, one of those long August days when you can lie in the shade and watch the sunlight pour down on the world.* There was water in a glass, or possibly lemonade, dripping with cold and drops of condensation. There was a book. I couldn't tell what was in it, but the cover was scuffed, and the pages were yellow and bent at the corners from being turned many times. It was obviously well-read and loved. Overhead, the leaves rustled and leaked tiny spots of sunlight onto the ground. Dragonflies flew past like miniature carnivorous biplanes. Lizards basked on lichen-encrusted fenceposts. The air was filled with the antiphonal chanting of cicadas and the fading rattle of painted locusts.

It's not every day that you find a lost afternoon. I put it safely away in my suitcase, wrapped in a scarf I won't need for a while yet. Some things ought to be kept safe. If I ever find a place with oak trees and fencepost lizards and an old brown book that someone has loved, I'll know where the afternoon came from, and then I can give it back.

* Sunlight and rain are strangely similar in large amounts. A hot day and a pounding rain have almost the same feeling - the world is swamped, pounded with too much weather, flooded and filled to overflowing with shining water or torrents of sunlight. The dry or the dark afterwards is clear and quiet, resting, as if after a thoroughly satisfying meal. The world lives on water and light. When it drinks them, it does so not in sips, but in great booming gulps.

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