In an explosion of sapphire, amethyst and aquamarine they stand sentinel at the end of the terrace, the paler, baby-blue blossoms well able to hold their own in the glamour stakes when set against their showier cobalt and purple cousins.
hen it comes to the wow factor, these particular ‘Azzurri’ could certainly give Roberto Mancini’s football champions of Europe more than a run for their money.
Delphiniums, that’s what’s causing that magnificent blue-burst of colour at the end of the terrace. At the end of my own terrace, actually, the 20ft-long, decked and relatively private sanctuary that lies immediately beyond my living room.
There they stand in all their glory those delphiniums, white roses to the left of them, pink roses to the right. Nearby there’s the lavender, French and English sitting side by side, the different blooms defining their heritage, but both emitting the same heavenly scent into the early-morning air. Or wafting sensuously late at night, mingling with the whiff of nearby rosemary, or the scent from the yellow rose that has travelled with me through three house moves and is still producing a profusion of sunshine blossoms every summer.
More than ever before I am living my life outside. As many of us are. Not because of the recent heat-filled days when it has actually often been necessary to retreat to the cooler air of the interior, but rather through force of a newly acquired habit, one developed over the past year as a means of finding some kind of mental respite, a pandemic antidote of sorts. And even, on occasion, as a means of delivering a two-fingered gesture to Covid and all its relentless negativity.
Yes, outside is the pandemic’s inside. My terrace – with its table and chairs, garden armchair, cushions, parasol, blankets and candles – is now an extra room in my home. And I have been living out there, as much as I can, since early spring; eating, reading, writing, planting profusely, sipping a glass of wine at the end of the day, pulling a blanket around me as the night sky brings its chills (as it inevitably will again before summer’s end) while commanding ‘Alexa’, from where I sit, to play whatever piece of music is my current heart’s desire.
Being outside is good for the soul. And the body. And the brain. Thus has it always been, but in these pandemic times surely it is a habit to be established and a way of living to be embraced far into the future. While just being outside is good – as in walking – actually living outside is even better. So while many will be rushing to dine indoors when that new ‘freedom’ finally arrives, I won’t be one of them.
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside,” wrote young Anne Frank in her diary while hiding from the Nazis for two years in the secret annexe in her Amsterdam home.
Afraid. Lonely. Unhappy. If there are three better words to convey how we have all felt at certain times since Covid came a-calling, then I don’t know what they are.
Covid hates the outside. So what, then, for us, is not to like?