I have been revelling in the hot weather – I love it! Yea, it was foretold at my birth that I would be a sunseeker, by which I mean that according to my mother it was so hot on the day I was born that you could fry an egg on the tarmac at Heathrow Airport (though I don’t know if anyone was actually trying this).
Summer is without a doubt my favourite season, and I’m sorry to see it slipping away. As a Leo born in August, as far as I’m concerned summer isn’t allowed to end until well into September, which is why I find it deeply shocking that children in Scotland have to go back to school in August.
But this is an emotional, completely unscientific view, not upheld by world authorities on the matter. A gardening column assured me two weeks ago that summer was over, and in Down the Bright Stream, a children’s book I was entranced by in my wistful floaty hippy period (I still have the hardback given me by my fellow dames) the mysterious author BB describes mid-July as having ‘… a strong hint of late summer… the buttercups had gone, and the elder with them, no longer did their sweet smell make the night air heavy.’
I find autumn depressing. As it gets cold and dark I want to gather my chicks around me, but needless to say the fully grown lads in question would find the idea laughable. Spring is even worse: I detest the change to British Summer Time, with light but bleak evenings you’d be better off closing the curtains on, and always being cold because you’ve overestimated the temperature. Winter’s fine – you know it’s going to be cold so you just rug up warmly and get on with it.
Summer is when you can finally relax – there’s no longer any need to go round with your head down and your shoulders hunched, braced against the cold. You can feel expansive, open ready for anything. As readers of these pages will know, I bow to no man in my love of a cardie, but the sweet spot of summer hasn’t been achieved until you don’t even need to take one with you as an insurance policy when you go out.
No film has captured the promise of a summer evening better than Sideways, when our wine-loving heroes emerge from their hotel into the sunshine of a Californian evening, newly showered and changed, and stroll off down the dusty road towards exciting encounters with untried vintages and – who knows? – new friends of the opposite persuasion.
Likewise, no song has captured the airy languor of summer better than the Isley Brothers’ ‘Summer Breeze‘. Alternating plangent strings and flowing vocals, it instantly evokes the ease and optimism of summer. Admittedly one of the lyrics now jars a bit (the one about coming home from a hard day’s work and she’s there without a care in the world and the food cookin’), but who can resist ‘Summer breeze makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind’? (What do you mean, you haven’t got any jasmine in your mind?)
And books – somehow you remember books you read during the summer differently from the ones read at other times of the year. I spent a summer reading The Lord of the Rings and the Gormenghast trilogy back to back, and didn’t really re-enter the real world until I’d read the last page. I’m sure it would have been different if I hadn’t been reading them in dappled parks and on sunny sofas.
But I can no longer ignore the crisp edges to the leaves, and my vain attempts to get a few more blooms out of my bedraggled roses. It’s over.