Today is an Oxford kind of day.
The sky is unbleached wool. A fine mist, invisible to the eye, hangs in the air like the memory of rain. The trees are clothed in shades of yellow, red, orange, plum. The colors tremble in the breeze. A few trees have already shed most of their leaves, and barren branches stretch up to try and snag the sky. The cold wraps around fingers--I wish I'd grabbed my gloves as I hide my hands in the pockets of my jeans. The air smells of falling leaves and the city. But then another smell intrudes. The scent of a memory.
Berry scents mix with citrus, a hint of cinnamon, the deep aroma of wine. I can almost taste it--the sugar coating the edge of the glass, the sharpness of the brandy mixed with the wine, subdued by the mulling spices. Now I can picture it. The table at the front of the White Horse, underneath the ground-level window. Sipping mulled wine with friends. There's a good-natured argument going on--we're trying to detmine each other's Middle-Earth races. We are on a Tolkien tour, after all.
The aroma, the sounds, the mental image fade quickly. Always so quickly. I'm left with the the reality of campus. Still beautiful, but despite its concrete, here-and-now reality, it feels a little like a fraud, a rip-off of a spatially and temporally distant cold day. I miss Oxford and my friends. Then I soldier on.
The day is still beautiful, in its chilly, mystic way that seems somehow simultaneously isolating and embracing. And somehow the memory has made the weather both sadder and more beautiful. Because today, in the form of my favorite weather, Oxford followed me home.