online: 6 may 2004
modified: 5, 6 may 2004

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4 may 2004 early summer

18:00 walking between rainstorms. On the ground beneath each willow tree there are about 50 new grown twigs in leaf, each about 30 cm long, blown off by strong winds.

Nearly all the trees are in full leaf - grass and undergrowth also. Some new grasses, broad leaved, are half a metre high. Sun is shining through the trees after hail and thunder. Suddenly everything is 'pastoral' or even 'heavenly'... (Why is vegetation perceived as benign or even divine?)... Nettles, also half a metre high and already with broad leaves, Mare's Tail, beginning to flower... Most of this growth has happened in 2-3 weeks.

A few spears of rain falling from a hazy bit of grey transparent sky, not quite cloud. It's falling in dazzling sunlight coming from the west. The avenue of limes is fully green now - there is not a trace of decayed or ageing leaf - all is fresh growth, no sign yet of death.

A summery glade lit by sun and filled with cow parsley, already flowering.

Woodland. A cool fresh wind from the Atlantic. Newly fallen rainwater everywhere. The ground is slippery. The bathing pond is 10 or 15 centimetres above the level it's been for several months.

As I look towards the sun I see shining white raindrops being blown off leaves and branches.

Out of the shade and into warm sunshine as I walk up Parliament Hill... the east end of London is spread out into the distance and shining, shining. Especially the white tower blocks reflecting sunlight from the west... The towers of Canary Wharf are lit up dramatically against a dark grey wall of misty rain in which a helicopter hovers, catching the light intermittently... The hills to the south east are hidden by this band of rain which stretches across all of South London - but here there is bright sun and everything vertical - cranes, steeples, towers, the dome of Saint Paul's - is lit by horizontal light, making each vertical thing much more visible than it usually is. The city looks like a painting, a work of art, and of course it is one - in its extent, its concreteness and its being so much more than any one of us can ever know or understand in its complexity, ours.

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