Slow humid rain falling in the gloom. She leads the way up the track, about an hour to the hut perhaps, we should make it just on sunset. It’s darker in the bush, beech trees towering above us, a light southerly pushing through the tops. The raindrops are intercepted by the canopy but regroup into something bigger and more violent on the way down. I don’t want to put on my raincoat, it will make me sweat… and smell. I recall something about women having a more acute sense of smell than men.
Long day at work, late to meet her, not what I had in mind for a first date: she probably thinks I’m an idiot. I try to think of something clever to say, but her legs ahead are distracting, all symmetry and grace. Stop looking at her and think. It is beautiful here, shadows and grey mist, elbowed branches and gnarled roots. I lick the rain and sweat off my lips.
Soon we are above the bushline and cloud. The sun has just gone, leaving half-light and a gentle wind through the tussock. She turns to look back. Her face and neck have fine angles and shadows, and I glimpse a smile at the edge of her lips. She is beautiful in her element.