Choking from the tree pollen and the blanket of smog that had blown in from across the sea and the dust that had risen from the roads after the fires of the previous week. The atmosphere was unbreathable. Slowly jogging through the drag of streets from west to east was a chore for the chest. The sky was cloudless, but all the towers and cranes in the distance took on a muddy, sepia colour. It was a sense of desaturation, a fading, that was at odds with the coarse, thick reality of the air. The town was suffocating under itself.
Cow parsley, she calls it. Hollow green stems rising out above lush green grass. I had always known it as Queen Anne’s Lace. White caps of tiny flowers like little parasols, umbrellas.
The May rains have come and gone.
We take the dogs out down the lanes. They know the hawthorn and the giant rhubarb near the river: smell it all. They know every stretch of our routes – but not as well as she knows them. She is hiding something beyond the obvious. She squints at blossom, nettles in flower.
Something is buried: a secret like pollen in the air.