This is the first in a series for this month only: Letters to July. Inspired by the wonderful and astute Melissa and her sometime blog series, she in turn inspired by Emily Diana Ruth’s erstwhile video series ‘Letters to July’. The aim is to post something on here most days in July: observations, notes, epigrams, musings. Pictures, some days. Poems, others. I’ve forgotten how to write freely, an underused muscle, and I’m looking forward to a month of mental exercise, honing the tendons I’ve let lapse in this busy year.
For the first letter, a piece inspired by a lovely one written by Melissa a few years ago. Simple snapshots of a month unpacking its bags, just settling in.
Today was: deep and sweet, succulent sleep, the kind you can sink your teeth into, so that I refused to rouse the three or four or was-it-five times he tried to wake me. Padding downstairs, rubbing my eyes, for a cup of tea as he kissed me goodbye and left through the front door (unusual, he almost always cycles from the back). It was mango lassi for breakfast, left in the fridge by the same friends who filled our tiny kitchen at the weekend, frying samosas in buckets of sunflower oil. It was tip-tap-thwack on the keyboard, the frustration of swooping – hawklike – to find the right word for the job, but coming up empty-handed. It was the satisfaction of, finally, finding the correct phrase, of clutching one’s prey. It was runny eggs on toast, and windows wide open. It was the heart-soaring melody of Arrival of the Birds. It was a floppy hat and fingers knuckle-deep in mud. Thinning beetroots, twirling runner beans, the peppery scent of nasturtiums. It was voices of men, shouting, frenzied, on the radio. And it’s 2-1 to Belgium! And it’s 2-2! And it’s the last minute! And it’s 3-2 to Belgium! This is a World Cup like no other. It was a small slice of strawberry cheesecake, leftover from our weekend garden party. It was the scent of summer.
Yesterday was: waking earlier than I’d hoped (after a late night), to olive oil light flooding the room. Washing raspberries and slicing strawberries, sleep laid across my eyelids like a slide film. It was sitting around the round pine table that lived in my auntie’s flat for twenty years, talking and eating, the heat of the day not yet the oppressor it would later morph into. It was the farm’s kitchen garden, globe artichokes rising like sceptres, a thought set alight for next year. It was a wander around the car boot sale and the oddly personal nature of what people choose to give away: children’s outgrown sweatshirts, half-scuffed trainers from the football team the son outgrew, seventies china (‘Ma’s, but she’ll never miss it now her memory’s going’) and DVDs replacing videos as the new outdated tech of yester-not-so-long-ago-year. It was a cycle into town under the roasting sun, and a bike locked beneath a spray of purple petunias. It was a walk along the river, ducks lined up in the shade. An unseasonal lunch, drenched in gravy, and hungry greyhounds with an eye on our Sunday roast dinners. It was talking as we fell to slumber, the first breeze in a week gliding through the open window.