Rose bay willow herb is impressive enough when drifts of it take over slopes of the Common. But when it has finished flowering and with its upright spikes, sere and ochre, in their close ranks, covered in downy seeds, it has a restrained distinction, missing in its frisky youth. This becomes more dramatic when the drifts are in the shade and the breeze lifts the seeds and carries them into the sun, where suddenly you can see them soar like insects hurrying off "on urgent voluntary errands".
It is that sort of day. By late afternoon, the sun is already lower in the sky than we have been used to, and when it comes from behind a cloud, it illuminates a table of people outside a cafe with a theatrical light. And perhaps, because the sun has been behind cloud most of the day, the group, suddenly cheered by the sun, relax and begin to laugh and chatter in a theatrical way.