It was one of those rare summer evenings in Britain. It’s half past ten at night, and the sky is clear. It’s still light, although the blue is fading, merging slowly into orange, pink and pastel hues hinting over the horizon.
One or two stars appear but to all intents and purposes it’s still daylight. I can hear the cicadas singing, hundreds of voices in the field, the sound contrasting with the stillness, the vibration pushing ripples through the thick air.
I love this time of night, a rare time when it seems all humans are tucked up in bed asleep. I water my vegetable patch, filling the kettle time after time from the tap in the kitchen, a purposeful slowing, a task to tend the earth, my earth. I savour the smell of the water hitting the dry ground, running rivulets finding cracks scorched by the heat that day.
I stand still and breathe in the heady aroma, flowers closing now, their perfume lingering on the air. A small bat flits its way around, skimming extra close to my head, the beat of wings reverberating in my ear. It circles and dips around and around, picking flies out of the sky. I look out across fields, the atmosphere and the grass are one. That big silence, that big sound, the sound of hills, the sound of the earth, the sound of stillness. That lull of expectation when humans give over their control to the natural world. That time where the wild swells its presence and reminds us that we are not everything on this planet.
A lone human noise jars, somebody calling, whistling for a cat to return home. The sounds stands out against the background hum of nature, at once settling down yet gearing up for the night.
I will a silent goodnight to my plants and softly tread back barefoot across the garden, my feet silent on the paving, feeling somehow more alive and more awake that just a few moments ago.