Terry O'Connor

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Interlude

There is a strange stillness about the garden this morning. The sky is a sullen light grey, unusually even in tone. The light is ambient, equally dull in all directions, no hint of shadows or of the sun. There is scarcely a breath of wind to stir the leaves. It is as if the vigour of early summer has paused for breath, taken the weekend off after a frantic fortnight of luxuriant growth.

Even the birds are quiet. A song thrush is giving voice somewhere in the distance, but down here in the garden the great tits and chaffinches whirr from tree to bush to feeder with unusual discretion. There are no wood pigeons cooing and clattering along the bank, an exceptional absence any day between March and October. Now there are alarm calls from a distant blackbird, perhaps spooked by the odd nothingness of this Sunday morning.

It is clearly early summer, though the dead, dull light would suit December just as well. Our big rhododendron is in full bloom of soft pink, geraniums of various hues are getting into their stride, and a fine patch of Raimonda adds a splash of mauve to the ferny wall to my side. The pond is very still, with just a few pond-skaters doing laps this morning, taking the opportunity to put in some hard yards while the frogs and newts are down in the mud, having a lie-in. A fresh hedgehog dropping is a welcome sign of life. We seldom see the animals themselves, but regularly find evidence of their nocturnal rambles.

The small vegetable patch matches the mood of the day. Nothing is quite ready to produce yet, just waiting. Finger-sized broad beans will suddenly fatten, tiny green tufts will become broccoli, the first potatoes will be coaxed out of the ground before the slugs get them and rocket will live up to its name. But that is all to come. For now, there is only anticipation, waiting for a breeze or sunshine or a shower of rain to wake the garden, and me, out of this unreal torpor.

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