I’m watching Rosamund jumping on the trampoline. She’s a small wee thing for six, with shoulder length scruffy gold hair that will probably turn brown. Children are wonderfully beautiful. Their clean little limbs and bodies without any of that horrid adult business that comes after puberty; all the adults busy scraping away at themselves with razors, and splashing or spraying on perfumes and aftershaves.
We went to Eleanor’s last piano lesson for the year in the afternoon. Her piano teacher lives in a townhouse up on a hill by Wellington High School and I like to sit on the deck which has views from Mount Albert in the south out east across the city and towards Petone in the north. Eleanor is lazy like I am and doesn’t practice so it’s quite hard going at times, although she has always been good at memorising things. I sat on the deck and listened to a very stilted version of Jingle Bells.
Afterwards we got a bus as far as the Newtown shops and then had to walk home. The heat had made everything still; even the trees seemed unwilling to move. We went down the shadier side of the street seeking out the blocks of shade left by trees and buildings, and darting across the bright gaps in between. It seemed like we were swimmers diving into the cool of the deep, and bursting out to the glaring surface for a hurried breath before swiftly sinking down into the cool again.
There was a ladybird at the bus stop, and another on a plant by our front gate when we got home.
Best of 2016 lists are coming out and I realise now why I haven’t really engaged with Leonard Cohen’s last album, and Radiohead’s latest before now. It’s because you have to listen to them properly. You have to listen to them like you listened to albums when you were a teenager who loved music: with your whole mind. The albums I loved as a teenager, and since, have been absorbed into me. When I listened to both albums this year it was not like that, it was just a snatched listen, grabbed up out of the water in a drive by rescue from the flotsam and jetsam of my life. Now I have time.
Now a little shade can be noticed. How the air changes in quality, how the cool of it is delicious on the skin. Now I can see Rosamund again. How her hair really still turns to spun gold in the direct sun, and how her limbs have lengthened a little more.
Time also, of course, to see the weeds in the garden, and the paint flaking off the side of the house.