Summer provides the most delightful setting for a secret assignation. The long afternoons stretch into evenings. The day’s heat lays heavily on your skin but there is relief in a cooling breeze after love. The windows are thrown open all night. Morning finds the lovers still cooing in their bed in such delightful disarray. The call of birds alerts them to the coming light and the way that the sudden fear of being found quickens the pulse and excites them again to love is pleasurable beyond words.
There are delights to be found also in winter on a fiercely cold night when you burrow beneath the bedclothes and the sound of cathedral bells reaches you with a deep and distant reverberation that seems to come from somewhere buried. You have made a nest of your bed, drawing the covers to yourself and you rest your head on your folded arm as if it were a feathered wing.
A man comes calling, perhaps for some intimate conversation or to pass the time pleasurably on his way home after buying apples at the market. He holds an apple up to you, brings the cool skin of it to your cheek. How can you look away?
He tells you about the weather, about the light rain and there is a bit of dampness on his shoulder where the fabric of his shirt has been soaked through.
The house is quiet but not empty. Someone - perhaps your mother or her sister visiting from the north - is shuffling quietly in the kitchen preparing a small meal. A plate of fruits and biscuits. A pot of strong tea. You would like the man to stay and you ask but you know that he will not. He leaves you apples. Once you are certain that he is gone, you take the largest one in your two hands and pierce the skin of it with your teeth with a fierceness that surprises even you.
Rare things - A perfect, unblemished apple. A sheet of handmade paper. A peony blossom still wet with dew.
A notebook on which every page has been written, without gaps, without lines crossed out.
It is rare to find a man who takes delight in the smallest moments of a woman’s day. When she tells him that the sedum is about to flower. Or that she has discovered thread moss on the branches of the white birch tree. Or that the veins of her hands resemble rivers.
Likewise, a woman who takes an interest in the preoccupations of her lover is also rare. He tells her he does not like the sound of his own voice. That the dry, cracked skin of his fingers shames him when he brings them to her face or when she takes them in her own soft hands. That it has been several days since he has written a poem or a line of prose.
It is rare for two people who promise themselves to each other forever, to always treat each other gently, with admiration and with scrupulous care.
Writing a letter to someone who is far away or copying a poem from a book on a sheet of paper, you take immense care to avoid making errors or smudging ink on the page, but even though you are careful, you are almost always certain to ruin it in some small way.
Two people, who vow to love each other their whole lives, who are able to please and delight each other, to discover each other anew as the years go on, to cling to each other for comfort and to give solace. To remain faithful to their love until the end.
Things later regretted - A man takes a job in another city in order to learn something new but when he arrives there, he learns little and he is sullen and sad.
The parents of a young girl are poor and so they send her to live with distant relatives who are wealthy and who fill her closets with silk dresses, but the girl misses her home so much that the dresses may as well be made of lead and when she wears them, it is like the silk itself has drained the color from her skin.
At great risk, you take a lover. He doesn’t live up to expectations.