Even mentioning the natural beauty of last week’s commute seemed briefly to have spoiled the magic: there were a few rainy days there, a cold and wet backdrop to little shards of still-summery warmth. It was like, while talking about it, I had dropped the miracle of an Indian summer and smashed it on the floor.
There were still pleasant journeys to be had, though, and despite having to transport a bootload of electronics to work, to Oxford and back, and despite coming down with a brief, headachy cold yesterday, I was so desperate to fit in a few remaining breathless punts over the rolling landscape that I cycled as much as my legs would let me, regardless of the occasional downpour. When not full of water the air felt as clean and fresh as it had done since the weather had first cooled off in early September. Gradually, though, the evenings had become gloomier, and the mornings colder. Even over four days there was an obvious change.
I left work promptly yesterday, as close to 5.30 as propriety would let me, to get home before dark; yet, as I climbed the first of the many hills on the way home, the sun was already tucked completely behind the horizon. Looking at the shocks of colour that was following it slowly over the sky, I remembered that this weekend the clocks change, and the sun will set a whole hour earlier from next week onwards: an hour plus two minutes, plus four; plus five or six; all the way to the solstice.
So on my journeys home there will be no more heat; no more light; no more three-sunset evenings. Feeling sentimental, I nodded towards the west, at the trail of pink behind my summertime companion, and bade him and summer goodbye for another year.