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The earth turns, first light stains the horizon. A finch darts over the garden wall, over the Pagoda, over the redwoods and the Berberis Dell. Mossy trees wearing bracket fungus wave evergreen fingers towards the Temperate House, where tubs froth cadmium geraniums. Lines of red oak and Norway spruce border wide vistas which lead through shrubberies to the rye-thatched cottage in the woods. Rotten branches litter the floor, the air smells of soil.
People loll across the seats, delving into bags for confections and juice.
A bin brims with the day’s detritus. A squirrel clambers in to feast on discarded things: crusts and apple cores, carrot batons, scraps of chicken, salt left in crisp packet corners. Quarrelling starlings gather as boys push chubby fingers inside humid polythene bags, feeding the fish stale seeded wholemeal.
The sun burns so fiercely on the sundial it erases itself, throwing no shadows at all, singeing jagged holes in history’s papery pages. Time melts, becomes translucent. It shifts and wobbles like the space above a candle – a wavering mirage. Hours expand and float away. Light is a line to travel along – a luminous elastic tightrope stretching back into the past.
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