Great gulps of laughter roll across the yard. They crack among the croquet balls and mallets. Whoops punctuate successful strikes. The sun slips down across the brim of the hill and a nectarine light fills the valley— all warmth and sweet citrus summertime. It casts the players’ shadows long at their feet yet leaves their figures brilliant and crystalline in the last sunburst of the day.
“No. No. Not that way!” calls the smallest player stamping her tiny foot.
I realize they don’t actually know how to play. They are just taking turns striking the balls. Something in the wind shifts and carries their laughter and their cries away from me. But I sit a moment longer on the front step watching their shadows arc across the grass in the sweet nectarine light as they swing their mallets and dance after what they believe is a good shot.
The sun burns orange and vermilion atop the hill and the shadowed hillside appears as smooth and dark as velvet. The whole valley is full of the creamsicle froth of summer sunset.
Were it a bowl, I could tip it up and take a long drink.
©2023 Katie Baker