My grandfather once told me that he’d spent his whole life in summer. I was a child then and I didn’t understand, but I believed him. There was sunshine in him, always warmth, and he took delight in everything. Being around him was like an easy purposeless walk on an August evening through the wooded lanes around his house. I’d walked those lanes and knew each turn, each fence, each sunbeam. Those lanes had seen a thousand thousand of me — the cowboy, the knight, the pirate, the explorer, latterly the thwarted romantic hero. We’d walked those lanes for years and countless summer stories had been told in the dappled light.
My summer was coming to an end. As September slouched over the threshold I’d leave for university and take up a course that was practical and appropriate, which would be the gateway into growth and progression and forward planning and productivity and purpose and perhaps, someday, a comfortable retirement in which I could take long and easy walks to nowhere and everywhere and then, ultimately, to nowhere again.
Standing in my grandfather’s garden, between the two apple trees exactly the same age as me, I heard absent echoes of running feet and excited voices overlaying the silence. What did they have to be excited about? Hadn’t they seen the autumn clouds over the nearby woodland? Hadn’t they known about the rain that would turn the green grass to mud and ruin?
No. They hadn’t. It had always been summer here, even when the snow piled up so deep and white and crisp that it remade the world. Always summer, and no clouds and no rain could drive away an old man’s smile.
But September was coming. Summer would be a memory, as glorious, unreal and intangible as a rainbow.
I stepped away from the two apple trees, exactly the same age as me, and back toward the slowly emptying house, and the expressionless faces and low tones of my well dressed relatives
Finn Cullen’s first novel A Step Beyond Context, a family drama and mystery spread over many worlds is now available on Amazon – Click HERE for more details.