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Color of a Day

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

Talking to the Dead by Helen Dunmore

You know how sometimes you read a book, and it colors your day so strongly, that an otherwise ordinary Tuesday afternoon becomes brighter and deeper and also more melancholy and a bit breathless? You know how sometimes you can't tell if it was the book, or the open mood you read it in?

It was that kind of a day.

I took a walk - whether to clear my head of the lingering words and unshakeable textures; or to savor them better, I don't actually know. I noticed how each house that I passed had its own particular smell. The small cottage with real estate sign and the door that closed as I passed, smelled of new carpet. Linseed - a new wooden fence in one yard, new bark around the beds in another. The flowers of each yard were particularly strong; the boxwood in one making me wrinkle my nose and hold my breath and something sweet like grapes in another drawing it deep. The smell of lavender, roses, gravel, diesel from old cars sitting in the sun, cool river smells and lumber, one by one.

The new elementary school going up a block away looked precisely like an architect's rendering with modern diagonal lines and wood and brick, bright against the cloudy blue sky. Bright sprayed-on grass, and the chain link fence around the construction reminding me of painting tape - ragged and extra - how you can't wait to pull it off and reveal the crisp lines.

The walk ended, but the book never went away. It was that kind of a day.

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