We weren’t sure we’d be allowed, but the weather to wear shorts in April bestowed a permission of its own. So we headed north, cycling uphill past the cows in their pasture and, eventually —the last outpost of the village— the milkman’s farmhouse. From here the rolling green would be interrupted only by a scattered jigsaw of distant crenellation glimpsed through a canopied cloth.
I liked Sonja. Her family was Romany, and had a name and a use for everything in the hedgerow. And she was the only girl I knew who was taller than me, so we competed at high jump, invented new skipping games, and went exploring.
The sun was high now —presaging that legendary summer of ’76— and we’d been cycling uphill most of the morning before we turned down the rough track that led through the big private estate. The gentle downhill breeze was as welcome as lifting my tired legs from the pedals. Truth be told, Sonja was by far the stronger athlete, and I was beginning to crave more substantial rest. The little dell now on our horizon focused our ambition. We began to imagine the gurgle of a fresh water stream, the taste of the sandwiches we had brought.
We laid our bikes in the grass and stepped through the curtain of shade, instantly nourished in the deep green cool. Then our nostrils caught the scent and, as our eyes adjusted, we stood astonished by what lay before us. Pure and unwritten in this virginal, wild place; a blanket thick and wide enough for a Greek god’s eternal slumber; an ocean of Apollo’s tears; a clamour of Calverkeys. We tiptoed to a fallen branch and sat, dumbstruck and mesmerized.
Ai, Ai! How silently the perfume filled our noses, eyes, bellies, seemed to seep through hair and skin. We were infused. Soon, we were utterly intoxicated. I swear we were actually drunk. In our enchantment, we began to gather the Wild Hyacinths. At first a handful, then a fistful, then an armful, then two. As we gathered we talked of love; friendships of love, futures of love, mother’s love. All was abundance.
We left behind a Bluebell sea still foaming, bikes carelessly slumbering on its grassy shore. We walked home in the haze of our harvest, certain that so many flowers would prove great love.
I can still recall Mum’s kind patience as we filled vase after container, and she gently explained how beautiful, loving and gracious it is to leave flowers to dance in the wild.
By Louder Than The Storm writer Kyra Pollitt