A while back I wrote a story about the first warm day of the year. It is about beginnings, and about the endings that, like winter, must surely follow. The first warm day is a magical event; not only is the city transformed, not only do the people around you seem to have shed their dour moods along with their winter jackets, it is as if the rays of the sun shine straight into your soul, and the air that fills your lungs makes it feel like you haven’t inhaled in months. It is not a day for working.
The last warm day of the year has a similar magic. If the beginning of summer carries with it the knowledge that there will be an end, the last warm day is greeted with thanksgiving — one more day of summer. A reprieve. There have already been cold days, the clouds have settled in and look like they’re planning to stick around for a few months. (I was in the city center a couple weeks back, and I was surprised to see so many tourists. I had to remind myself that summer still lingered in much of the northern hemisphere.) Then out of nowhere comes one or two beautiful days. There is a chill to the air, there’s no forgetting what’s coming, but that just adds to the magic. This is a bonus day, a day life didn’t have to give you, but you caught it in a good mood. Life smiled indulgently and said, “Oh, I suppose one more can’t hurt.”
Sunday was such a day. When given such a gift, you owe it to life to make the most of it. You wouldn’t want to appear ungrateful, after all. So it was that Sunday afternoon found fuego and me sitting in the very beer garden where the above story takes place, chatting about this and that, watching the dogs play, and enjoying long silences while we looked out over the Old Town. The place was full, but they know how to keep things moving at the beer window.
We had arrived in the early afternoon; by the time we left the sun had set long since. We watched as the light put the city through a series of transformations, through the Golden Hour and into the night. I imagined people sitting on that same hillside one hundred years ago. I looked for buildings that wouldn’t have been there back then, and I thought about what the scene in the park might have looked like, thinking about the images of nicely-attired members of the Austro-Hungarian Empire out for a promenade, parasols twirling lazily.
The styles and mannerisms might change, but I’m sure the people back then talked about the same things fuego and I discussed: the beauty of the city spread out before us, and our great fortune to have one more warm day to enjoy it.