A day in June

It really was a perfect day. The air was clear and dry; the sky blue, but with enough white-and-gray cumulus clouds to make it truly beautiful; the temperature at mid-day just on the edge of hot, but cool in the evening; and all faces reflected the perfection of the weather.

I walked slowly through Danehy Park, looking and listening. Three soccer games were going on, men playing in bright nylon uniforms, with a couple of boys kicking around a soccer ball on the sidelines while they watched the game out of the corners of their eyes. Three young children egged each other on and decided to run down a little hill away from their parents, wide grins on their faces, giggling, their fathers calling after them, “Slowly! Don’t get too far!”; and then the fathers talked to each other about their children in French that was laced with one of the African accents. Two girls in pink dresses tossed a frisbee back and forth with their father until at last the girls (not the father) grew tired of the game. People lounged at picnic tables, empty papers and foil in front of them, talking idly and looking at the pink clouds in the sky. A man played with his black dog, telling it to stay where it was; he picked up the ball and began walking away; the dog quivered with anticipation and excitement, and began to rise on its hanuches; the man looked back, and the dog got down; at last the man threw the ball and the dog flew after it. It was a perfect evening for being in the park….

Earth gets its price for what Earth gives us;
    The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in,
The priest hath his fee who comes and shrives us,
    We bargain for the graves we lie in;
At the Devil’s booth are all things sold
Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold;
    For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
Bubbles we earn with a whole soul’s tasking:
    ‘T is heaven alone that is given away,
‘T is only God may be had for the asking;
There is no price set on the lavish summer,
And June may be had by the poorest comer.

And what is so rare as a day in June?
    Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
    And over it softly her warm ear lays:

— lines 21-36 from the prelude to the first part of The Vision of Sir Launfal by James Russell Lowell