An inconclusive catalogue of reds.

Goodness: one day's early writing makes it feel as though I've been away for an age. Certainly it's been long enough for me to have two picture-taking bouts, one last evening, when the sunset was striking (at 5:30 p.m.):

and another today, when our sky went strange and gorgeous in the middle of the afternoon:

Now, some amongst you will laugh at this next revelation, but one of my afternoon's tasks today was to buy a couple of new black shirts, now that I've finally found a place that has styles I like at prices that won't kill me. (You wouldn't laugh if I'd ever told you why I actually wear black all the time, but that's another story, and one that ends with my happily embracing monochromatic base layers.) Even better, I was able to acquire a new totally acrylic black v-neck sweater (one of my wardrobe staples; my old one is four and getting a little threadbare--not to mention short, which makes no sense to me) and a pair of gloves. While I was tempted to rock out the orange gloves, or the golden ones, with my winter coat (now that it's out and earning compliments again, now in its third year), the gloves I bought were also black.

It must have been because I knew I was about to buy a group of black items that I began noticing reds on my way to the city centre. By the time I saw my third good red, I started jotting them down.

First, there was the wild branch-and-berry bouquet my neighbour bore home in her bicycle basket; she was turning the corner as I was jaywalking across our main road, and we hailed each other merrily. This week has marked the shift to our all recognizing each other when we see each other on the street and in town; yesterday, as I walked home from the pharmacy, I seemed to see half of my neighbours also making their ways home (on bicycle, mostly), and we all waved and grinned at each other.

Then there was the red Haymills crane that has hung over the Clare College dormitories nearest to the University Library. I love this crane, though I've never gotten to see it in use. Last weekend, they left it hanging over our footpath. We speculated about why it was pointing that way, but none of us has any real knowledge and so we got nowhere.

Just under the crane, a man stepped out of the gate leading from the footpath to the UL--and under his grey coat, he was dressed in red from head to toe, right down to his red socks and shoes. His hair was white and streamed thinly to his shoulders. He had a white beard and a strange eye and a silent mutter.

A few steps ahead, a woman in a red coat stood beside a man; they both peered between the bars of the fence, looking at the construction site to which the crane belonged. She had her back to me. When she turned, she revealed a seven-month belly, her white shirt taut across it. Somehow, this sight made me smile, as babies and pregnant women do nearly without fail now.

For many steps, there was no red except the berries on the bushes-that-are-not-holly. And then, as I stepped onto Clare Bridge, a boy poled a punt downstream with speed like I have seen in no other punter. And the next punt I saw was a double-wide, bearing among its passengers a woman in a red puffer jacket.

On the next bridge downstream, the mother of a family wore a red fleece; her child, in pink, climbed out of the stroller and crouched while the family paused at mid-bridge. Just then, I spied the orange-red of the fleece jacket of another of my neighbors as she cycled past, on her way home.

Within the court at Clare, a stern-faced girl strode past me in a fluttering, draping red dress topped with an incongruous grey blazer for which I could not blame her; suddenly, it's cold here, cold enough that I bought gloves, cold enough that I wore them, even on the short walk home from dinner. (Someone left a window open during a lecture I attended this evening; it took awhile for my hands to rewarm.)

The maroon headscarf of a woman passing me. The worn rubber handles on a utility card inside Trinity Hall's always-locked gate. A red trench-coat on a swift cyclist. The red striped scarf on a woman who used her bicycle to keep an obviously interested young man at a distance, at least for now.

And then I was in the melée that is King's Parade and then the Market and the pharmacy once more, and the only reds I remember from that point are the red patent-leather wedge pumps in which a woman passed me, and the red leather gloves that I also almost bought before remembering that I don't really want to wear red and green together every day for the next six months, and all the little bits and pieces of red that dot the buildings here: red rosettes, red lips on the sun on one of the sundials on the sundial tower I love so well, red of all sorts on college shields.

All of these reds, I'm sending to you. Had I taken my camera with me to town, I would send you the evening sky, as well: by the time I walked home, I was taking in blues.