Following a walk marked by an intangible mist of bloom that followed the white border stones she came to a space overlooking the sea where there were lanterns asleep in the fig trees and a big table and wicker chairs and a great market umbrella from Sienna, all gathered about an enormous pine, the biggest tree in the garden. She paused there a moment, looking absently at a growth of nasturtiums and iris tangled at its foot, as though sprung from a careless handful of seeds, listening to the plaints and accusations of some nursery squabble in the house. When this died away on the summer air, she walked on, between kaleidoscopic peonies massed in pink clouds, black and brown tulips and fragile mauve-stemmed roses, transparent like sugar flowers in a confectioner’s window— until, as if the scherzo of color could reach no further intensity, it broke off suddenly in mid-air, and moist steps went down to a level five feet below.
Part I, Chapter VI, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, first published 1934.
First of all, my dears, sorry for yesterday's silence. It was all the fault of my faulty internet. It was impossible to even open a web page from early afternoon until midnight last night, and obviously I was in no position to blog at midnight.
Anyway, I read this paragraph yesterday afternoon, and I was absolutely lullabied by that just sugar-sweet analogy of the fragile, young roses being "transparent like sugar flowers in a confectioner's window". And how about the lanterns "alseep in the fig trees"? They were not dangling, hanging or suspended in the branches. They were asleep. To me, that just sings of the soft, luminous sleepiness of the scene - something warm and gently glowing, yet refreshing as it is at night. Can you just imagine in the things that would follow? Crisp, rejuvenating salty sea breeze in lungs hot from the upstairs party, hard, cold pavers beneath hot bare feet. Although it does not scream at you from this paragraph, I believe Fitzgerald to be a master of atmosphere, and he paints pictures that are perfect but unfinished, and suggest to your imagination a thousand things that smell, taste, sound and feel incredibly fresh and wonderful. There will be some real treats ahead!