Hot sultry weather unstirred by wind. Guests slumped around on sofas and in big armchairs, dazed by the quiet and with puppies licking their faces. Tall jugs of icy homemade lemonade and gingerbeer, a glut of summer peaches. The garden humming and cooing with cicadas and turtledoves. As in the sensuous and symbolic Song of Solomon:
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land
Insanity would be drinking alcohol in this kind of heat, dehydrating the body, whacking the blood sugar levels, adding to the exhaustion. I lie on the pillowed sofa and read detective novels while sliced strawberries sweeten in the fridge and bowls of yoghurt flavoured with mint and honey chill. All around the house there are tall glass vases of hydrangeas and agapanthus, blue on blue. Sobriety makes sense. The guests tell me they are keen on good wines. by which they mean a glass or two of flinty sauvignon blanc with the grilled chicken or fish steamed with ginger and lemongrass. Most people don’t know what serious drinking involves, the dedication and persistence of downing several litres and then some. Wiping out the evening, the night, the next day, a lifetime.
There is a new book by Karen Armstrong on the bedside table, rebuting in part the New Atheists. I’m musing on faith, the impossibility, the necessity. How it all becomes simple when we are singlehearted in our quest.
“Over the centuries people in all cultures discovered that by pushing their reasoning powers to the limit, stretching language to the end of its tether, and living as selflessly and compassionately as possible, they experienced a transcendence that enabled them to affirm their suffering with serenity and courage.”