Edward Hopper, Gas, 1940


The heat has lifted, and a cool breeze is blowing in off the coast. There is a reprieve from the intensity of late summer. All day a steady stream of traffic barrelled south, back toward the city. To concrete, to offices and schools, to the rush of crowds and public transport. It’s as though the wind is trying to aid them on their way—to rush the season and get it over with. To bring the quiet of early autumn. The quiet of moored boats gently bobbing in the water. Of seagulls calling out with no children to respond. Of trees thinning in the arching light of shorter days.

There hasn’t been a car to my station in more then two hours now, and so I head out to inspect the pumps. To clean up the trash that’s been left behind. A sticky soda bottle, and a dirty newspaper that shouts, “NAZIS INTENSIFY AIR RAIDS ON BRITAIN AS 500 PLANES POUND AT STRONGHOLDS; BLITZKRIEG ON, LONDON PRESS WARNS.” I pause at this and shake my head. Nazis. Blitzkrieg. London. So very far away. I toss the newspaper in the trash and empty the can.

Across the way I hear a feral hiss in the pine trees. It sounds like a raccoon is attacking a squirrel’s nest. I can see the branches of a lone tree, the site of the violence, shaking, but then a gust of wind blows and the shaking blends in with the quivering of the rest of the forest.

Down the road, a flash of light suddenly illuminates the dark. A car rumbles around the corner, heading my way. I can see the silhouettes of a man and woman inside. The woman has voluminous, flouncing curls. The driver wears a hat, its brim obscuring his eyes. They turn into my station. My day is not quite over, just as the busy season is not quite over yet.

The breeze and the raccoons and the waning evening light will have to carry on without me for a little while longer.


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