Wednesday, 30 April 2008

A Midsummer Dream?

It was the hottest summer for over half a century. At least that was what the weather-woman on the radio said. She recalled the previous summer of 2012 and how during midsummer's night, a comet had been widely seen in the Northern Hemisphere. We had called the comet Puck as it was midsummer's night. It had blazed furiously across the night sky...

"I go, I go; look how I go,
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow.

as Puck had said. Strange lights had been scattered across the sky, moving like fireflies and altogether making the night magical. But that was last year and only to be remembered now. Besides, in Britain the Olympics were happening and were all the rage for some. I had closeted myself away from the nationalist noise and sports fans.

But this was a new summer; the summer of 2013. Last midsummer people had flocked with their umbrellas to the beach. This year once again, people flocked to the beach and planted their umbrellas. To everyone's surprise, all the umbrellas wore blue and white stripes regardless of the design or pattern they had been bought with. But it was too hot and nobody was that bothered. Up went the umbrellas and the windbreaks. Off came the clothing under towels and stripped to swimming costumes, people flopped in the shade and fell asleep in the warmth. The girls with their faces all tanned, lying on the beach all covered in sand. Stretching out their long legs, lying in the sun. The boys all muscle, insecurities and trying to catch the eye of the sleepy girls.

A young man put on a radio and music filled the air briefly. Suddenly the music vanished and there was soft strange music unheard of before. Then the umbrellas began to move. They waved gently freeing their handles from the sand and un-latched their catches. As if in some slow dance, they began to half-open and close like a host of birds flapping their wings. The radios all came on at once and all played the same strange music. Deckchairs and sun-loungers began to undo themselves and shuffle crablike towards the sea.

For a brief moment amid all this activity, disbelief stilled the people. Then with a sudden lurch, one woman screamed and ran towards the promenade. She was the catalyst for a panic. In the ensuing moments, all the people moved like a great herd fleeing a predator. They ran, scooping up children and running awkwardly on the loose sand towards the promenade.

The objects ignored the people; as the people headed inland, the objects seemed desperate to get to the sea. The umbrellas began to spin and flap until the sea breeze caught them up and cast them out to the sea upturning them. The deckchairs and sun-loungers moved all their jointed flaps as if testing the limits of their movements. Beach balls, rolled between the shafts of the umbrellas and about the chairs and loungers like dogs at play. As for the actual dogs, they barked and dashed among the beach furniture thoroughly amused at this strange scene.

Slowly the chairs and loungers moved into the sea and did not surface for a while. When they did they floated among the upturned umbrellas like some bizarre armada. A few umbrellas still twitched until they seemed to walk upon the sea. They were never seen again.

That night, a shooting star fled across the sky and near the beaches, laughter was heard.


madameshawshank said...

the objects ignored the people..

Griffin..yep to that!..the energy of ALL...we often forget it methinks..

don't ya love the single umbrella unopen...perhaps thinking a little..will I?..or not...perhaps that umbrella knew in advance..could sense what was ahead..

a beach scene in Nice ('twas an exceptionally hot day!!!)

Rosemary in Utah said...

First thing I noticed was the lack of people in this scene, you'd think they'd be swarming...
Oh if our possesions, our Owned Things, our Stuff ever turned on us, or left us, (or even just quit functioning)we'd be in terrific trouble.
I love how the (possesionless) dogs had no worries here!

Griffin said...

As a Decorative Art curatorial person ... we know that objects have their own lives. But this herd of umbrellas made me wonder at their own desires in the heat. But also the possibility of magic done by Puck.

Dogs just love running around going bananas!! It's also one of the things they do best.

Anonymous said...

This image kept popping in my head all day - contrary yet complimentary mad dashes. I'm picturing the people in old fashioned red striped bathing suits.

Saw some art today - people falling down, busses & bicycles floating up -

Griffin said...

Yes, Madame is untainted by art theorists telling her what is and isn't a good image or why. She snaps with a natural eye for an image and voila - inspiration strikes!

I also liked that unopened umbrella... just thinking and waiting... and waiting.. and waiting!

Marina, I did my art history degree as a mature student too, tho' in my mid-twenties. It was all so much fun... despite art history theory.

Good luck with your degree. I admit, I am only now drawing away from the Victorian art I loved in my youth. I still love the Pre-Raphs and Symbolists, but I am finding delight in other places too.

madameshawshank said...

marina...welcome to SnapperandtheGriffinland :-)

am curious as to how one would say out loud ~ or out soft ~ the title of Mr Chan's piece..

as I read it, in my head I hear 'first, light crossed out'

again, welcome!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Madame for welcoming me! And Griffin for the good luck! :D It feels so warm.

Madame, I read the title of Chan's piece as "First Light not Light." Funny thing, it will be verbal in one's head.

Marilee said...

Ok I really liked that G-man =) In this day of total consumerism (esp. in the US) and our total disregard for things (meaning we have so much that we don't really value anything much anymore) the idea that our things may want better treatment or at the very least a good laugh, is wonderful!

Oh and I may have a picture you could build a story around, if you are interested ;)

Griffin said...


All images welcome, but will have to be 'vetted' by The Snapper who is the Duchess of Images here. I already have a few from a Parisian friend that have been sent to Madame for her decision.

Glad you love the story too.