Monday, April 04, 2005

A Rare, Perfect Evening

This evening I experienced one of those rare, perfect moments that you cannot plan for, and which always catch you unexpectedly.

I was working late, but had to leave the office briefly to fetch the car, which is parked on the other side of the city (a story for another time), as I wanted to move the car closer to the office before it got dark, as walking the length of the city, for any reason, after dark is not the safest choice to make. The weather has been changing recently; the air has been nippy during the day (especially in the shade), and colder at night. Summer is very definitely on its way out, and winter is approaching. At the moment, however, the start of autumn still brings with it those thrilling moments as the colours change and the environment still seems very much in transition.

As I left the building I stepped out into a warm, windless dusk that is truly rare in Cape Town. It was a huge contrast to the hermetically sealed environment that I had been in for the past nine-and-a-half hours. The temperature was just right, at that warmth that makes you feel comfortable rather than overheated, while the lack of wind was wonderful. Sometimes the wind blows so hard in Cape Town, especially in certain "hot spots", that I have to pause as I'm walking so as not to be blown over. It's even worse on cold days when you feel the icy chill go right through you.

The light was also just right - twilight, before the sun has completely gone down, which seems to hang in the air. In Cape Town this moment is especially rare as we don't have those long, lingering twilights like those in Europe. In fact, it reminded me very much of the first evening I ever spent in Paris. It's one of those beautiful moments during which you wish you were sitting outside at a restaurant enjoying a good, relaxed drink with a great friend, or two, rather than worrying about deadlines and work schedules. I just wish they could last longer here. They would complement the city wonderfully.

During my 12-odd minute walk to the other side of the city, the city felt unnaturally serene, as it was just after the rush-hour bustle of people going home from work, but just before the time when the city's nightlife usually begins. At its loudest I experience only ambient city noise interspersed with pockets of quiet and, visually, soft shadows interspersed with fading light.

I reached the car just as the moment was ending, and drove back to the office enjoying the last bit of light mixing with the artificial lights of the city. By the time I arrived back at the office the magic had almost entirely dissipated and, as I exited the car, I felt the familiar autumn chill in the air once again; a subtle reminder that I had to go back to work.

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