Tuesday, 25 June 2013
On the radio they said 'winter is on its way'.
Monday morning, walking to work in the cold air and a still-damp coat with the smoke of midsummer bonfires hanging on to it.
The long, cold start to the year meant that spring and summer arrived at once, everything blooming together in a strange bounty. And yet, as we travelled with our still-warm baking through the streets and the sheets of rain towards the fires, someone said it looked like December, and the air felt like fall. Four seasons and a supermoon, all on the longest days of this year.
So we stood, trying to find a magic spot beside the fire, where the heat would burn up the raindrops before they landed on us, but where we ourselves would not be consumed by flames. And I suspect we never found that spot, for my wine glass seemed to grow fuller, try as I might to make it emptier.
An evening spent in the dreamy silver half-light that only comes of thick rain clouds on a northern summer's night. The leaves glowed greener, the fire glowed more orange.
And then people went singing and banging drums, in the centre of the hush of the rain, trying to keep long candles lit while winding a procession down to the river. At the river's edge they placed tea candles in the crowns of flowers they had been wearing, called wianki in Polish (it was a Polish party, after all) and floated them downstream. The candles didn't stay lit too long, but one man did strip down and jump into the river to free a crown that had become ensnared in the sticks at the edge of the swollen river.
And then back to the fire that was outside and the other that was inside in a house that spilled over with the sounds of an accordion and a guitar and many voices, and where a table stood covered in more cakes and breads and foods of every kind than it would be right to dream of. More food was appearing, even as we were leaving.
Until morning, clothes dripped into the bathtub, and boots sat by the door in little pools. And the sky started lightening before we knew if it had been dark.