The Pergola at Hampstead Heath

Em julho – que foi ontem, mas foi há dois meses, mas também parece ter sido há três decadas ou cinco minutos atrás – fui fazer um piquenique em Hampstead Heath, o famoso parque do bairro de Hampstead. Eu já estive lá diversas vezes, principalmente pra lanchar no café da Kenwood House, uma casa senhorial construída no século 17 e antiga moradia dos condes de Mansfield – um deles sendo o tutor da Dido Belle, a primeira herdeira negra da Inglaterra (interessantíssima história que foi transformada em filme estrelando a maravilhosa Gugu Mbatha-Raw). A casa, mantida pela English Heritage, é aberta a visitação pública; a biblioteca é tão bonita que por si só vale a viagem.

Uma parte de Hampstead Heath que eu ainda não tinha visitado era a pérgola, e por isso resolvemos nos reunir lá. Não estava esperando nada além de uma área coberta com algumas plantas, mas assim que chegamos meu queixo caiu. A estrutura em si é enorme, dividida em várias áreas com moods bem diferentes umas das outras: arcos, cúpulas, lagos artificiais, campos abertos com áreas para piquenique, áreas de sombra cobertas de musgo e hera, jardins de inspiração mediterrânea e outros tipicamente ingleses. O plantio foi feito para realçar o melhor de cada época do ano, como as glicínias e campânulas na primavera, rosas e petúnias no verão, heras e fúcsias no outono. Chegamos no fim de julho, aquela fase de transição entre estações; mas ainda havia ecos das anteriores enquanto o outono já começava a se anunciar (preciso voltar no fim de outubro).

Chegamos na hora do almoço de um dia bonito de semana, e como dá pra ver pelas fotos tivemos o lugar quase que inteirinho só pra nós (fora umas 3 ou 4 pessoas perambulando e um casal fazendo fotos de casamento). Infelizmente planejamos mal e ignoramos a previsão de chuva – ok, a bem da verdade essas previsões não são sempre muito confiáveis, mas nesse dia a natureza não estava a fim de surpreender e correspondeu à risca. Cerca de meia hora depois que chegamos a chuva desabou BONITO e tivemos que nos esconder debaixo dos arcos, sentados no chão de terra. A chuva não passou, mas deu uma aliviada que nos permitiu correr até o uber sem medo de tomar um raio pela cara, ir pra casa de um dos amigos para enfim comer nossos petiscos comprados no mercadinho asiático de Golders Green sentados na sala, assistindo Netflix e fazendo planos de voltar.

Midsummer.

Midsummer beauty.

On nights like this we used to swim in the quarry,  
the boys making up games requiring them to tear off  the girls’ clothes  
and the girls cooperating, because they had new bodies since last summer
and they wanted to exhibit them, the brave ones  
leaping off  the high rocks — bodies crowding the water.

The nights were humid, still. The stone was cool and wet,
marble for  graveyards, for buildings that we never saw,  
buildings in cities far away.

On cloudy nights, you were blind. Those nights the rocks were dangerous,  
but in another way it was all dangerous, that was what we were after.  
The summer started. Then the boys and girls began to pair off  
but always there were a few left at the end — sometimes they’d keep watch,
sometimes they’d pretend to go off  with each other like the rest,
but what could they do there, in the woods? No one wanted to be them.  
But they’d show up anyway, as though some night their luck would change,  
fate would be a different fate.

At the beginning and at the end, though, we were all together.
After the evening chores, after the smaller children were in bed,  
then we were free. Nobody said anything, but we knew the nights we’d meet  
and the nights we wouldn’t. Once or twice, at the end of summer,  
we could see a baby was going to come out of all that kissing.

And for those two, it was terrible, as terrible as being alone.  
The game was over. We’d sit on the rocks smoking cigarettes,  
worrying about the ones who weren’t there.

And then finally walk home through the fields,  
because there was always work the next day.  
And the next day, we were kids again, sitting on the front steps in the morning,  
eating a peach.  Just that, but it seemed an honor to have a mouth.  
And then going to work, which meant helping out in the fields.  
One boy worked for an old lady, building shelves.  
The house was very old, maybe built when the mountain was built.

And then the day faded. We were dreaming, waiting for night.  
Standing at the front door at twilight, watching the shadows lengthen.  
And a voice in the kitchen was always complaining about the heat,
wanting the heat to break.

Then the heat broke, the night was clear.  
And you thought of  the boy or girl you’d be meeting later.  
And you thought of  walking into the woods and lying down,  
practicing all those things you were learning in the water.  
And though sometimes you couldn’t see the person you were with,
there was no substitute for that person.

The summer night glowed; in the field, fireflies were glinting.
And for those who understood such things, the stars were sending messages:  
You will leave the village where you were born  
and in another country you’ll become very rich, very powerful,
but always you will mourn something you left behind, even though  
you can’t say what it was,
and eventually you will return to seek it.

– Midsummer, by Louise Gluck

I’m outside looking in.

An open door says, “Come in.”
A shut door says, “Who are you?”
Shadows and ghosts go through shut doors.
If   a door is shut and you want it shut, why open it?
If   a door is open and you want it open, why shut it?
Doors forget but only doors know what it is
doors forget.

– Carl Sandburg

Here is London, giddy London

So good to see the city coming back to life. And without the crowds that used to make it hellish. Tourists are needed and need to come back, of course – but for now, while no one is looking, I’ll say yes, it’s that little bit nicer not having to battle hoardes of people everywhere. I just hope it won’t last.

In the air.

S P R I N G
Forsythias and camelias are out; cherry trees and magnolias almost there. Derby popped for a visit; he is our neighbour’s ginger cat and a while ago he spent a lot of time on our doorstep – we later discovered his owners had been away and he was just lonely. He’s a cutie. Diesel hates his guts though. :)

How it used to be.

Last month I went for a walk along Strand on the Green in Chiswick, then on to Kew for a cheeky Maids of Honour takeaway. There was a small queue outside the bakery but it was all empty inside, tables and chair piled up in corners. I hate to see places I love like this. I hope we get back to some level of normalcy soon.

You’ll always fail sometimes when you begin.

And I know you wanna get out of here.

i know you think this town is the problem but maybe it’s not, maybe it’s you
i know you think there are walls around you, but did you ever look
it’s so easy to blame other people, it’s so easy to hate where you’re from
but the truth is we’re the product of nothing
just a collection of the things that we’ve done

what if the songs you say define you were just the ones that you heard first?
what if your first love could be your last love if you hadn’t used it as a way to rehearse?
it’s so easy to think of an ending, it’s so easy to start all over again
but the truth is you have to stick with it;
you’ll always fail sometimes when you begin.

– summer camp