How to describe a breath of pure pleasure, such that a sudden woodland grove that drew me into its wild orbit is for a moment not even seen? Just a breath, a scent for the ages, as I wheel round behind the church on my way down a small road to the sea. The sea air has the salt of wind and life and time, it’s irreplaceable, always faintly epic; but this whiff of a secret garden has something richer, wilder, exquisitely subtle. A single breath once savoured I let my eyes – which have not closed, merely shut their sense away – take in the source. A controlled explosion, a composed riot of colour. An Aladdin’s Cave.

The colours march up, at once present themselves; in their overlapping groupings and assortments of growth they cluster-bomb the mind with delight. But there are more modest shapes and stems, that wait to be noticed or not, it seems; a lilliputian forest of leaf-offerings, resting in among the loud blooms. Such delicate grace and sharpness, such toughness, such translucence, such a palette of green shades. They are the gentlemen, to my old-fashioned eye, in some wonderfully wind-strewn dance-hall of courtesy, among the ladies of light.

Reluctantly I turn from what has been for a space a rich beat of existence, and find myself out in the unadorned open, moving down the small road to the sea. It’s good to look back on the moment, to have taken that breath of life . . . to have dawdled past a flower-stand.

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