Remember how it rains at the beginning of summer?
Big, warm, playful droplets washing over your eyelids, disappearing inside crevices of your smile which you cannot keep still just like you cannot keep still your limbs almost dancing with joy from promise of a long, golden summer.
Cicadas serenading relentlessly inside the overgrown bushes of your garden. Nights of velvet and honey.
The best nights to read Pablo Neruda and drink overly sweet wines until orangy dawn spread sleep over casually thrown words.
Slowly some afternoons grow too immense; overripe and heavy. Dull from heat.
Young girl of early summer dancing her shiny, new shoes through long, fragrant evenings and bright sparkly mornings, with each step closer to the matronly lady in a maroon coloured taffeta dress.
It was one such afternoon when I walked with crowds gathered at one of our local festivals. For a small capital, Wellington offers surprisingly diverse assortment of events. That is especially true for Newtown’s festival, a suburb I once lived in before discovery of ‘Writer’s Den’ which is nestled nearby Botanic Garden and moved into space fit for one only.
It is said that in Newtown you walk with the World; from Africa to Europe to Middle East to Asia, they are all represented on the streets of Newtown. The festival is held every year to celebrate this fantastic medley of cousins, languages, and music. Ethiopian ‘Doro Wot’ next to Hungarian ‘Chimney Cakes’. Chinese Dragon Dancers next to Balkan Brass Bend.
And it was to the beat of those Balkan Gypsy drums that I come undone. They still send shivers down my spine even though some time has passed since I heard them for the first time on a cold, wintry night in one of those establishments frequented only by certain type of drunk and lonely.
The beat was as surprising as haunting … long, slow cry of trumpet pierced by clear longing voice. Singing the words and melodies I recognized. They ambushed me unprepared on the dusty village road from times now long referred to only as ‘my life before.’ ‘Before’ remaining undefined.
Later I learned that ‘Niko Ne Zna, Renegade Brass Bandits’ are New Zealand Balkan Gypsy Brass Band, formed in Wellington some six or so years ago! The wonders and surprises of little capital!
But that late-summer afternoon in Newtown my feet started to move to the beat of gypsy drums and there was nothing I could do to keep them still or in shoes … so I danced barefooted on the street, for all I am worth! Eyes closed so to see one long silvery river slicing through the ancient lands of Balkan where dogs of rage and dogs of sorrows never sleep.
Later they put one of their CD’s into my hand and told me I won the street dancing competition. I out- danced all others.
Only I did not. I only out-danced the young girl who once danced barefooted on the roads long abandoned. Her long, black hair flying behind her like a flag. Flag of a barefooted gypsy countess.
On my way back to ‘Writer’s Den’ I took the usual path, the one I love best as it leads through the old Jewish cemetery which stops the city and then winds up through the Botanic Garden.
At the beginning of summer I found small opening in the Garden’s long wooden fence and call it my ‘Secret Entrance.’ I fancy it as my own.
Somebody placed old-fashioned lamps behind my favourite bench.
I sat there for a while.
Shadows grew longer.
Then wind picked up from the ocean. There was chill and mist in it.
One cold droplet landed on my eyelid.
It might have been a tear.
At the end of summer.