Some might think I am obsessed with the weather, but I just like to keep a keen eye on what's going on up there. All I ask for is four distinct seasons, without extremities, in order and on time. What I get, however, is threatening skies, strong winds and horrendous heatwaves. But these events really are few and far between. I have nothing to complain about, so leaving the doom aside, I turn today to thoughts of summer.
Here's a snap of a couple of lads larking about at Henley Beach, a suburban beach in Adelaide in the 1950s. When I was a kid, a trip to the beach just made me beside myself with joy. I lived for the outdoors, brown as a nut and half naked. You'd never know it now...
(from my private collection)
Katherine Mansfield, "The Garden Party"
"And after all the weather was ideal. They could not have had a more perfect day for a garden party if they had ordered it. Windless, warm, the sky without a cloud. Only the blue was veiled with a haze of light gold, as it is sometimes in early summer. The gardener had been up since dawn, mowing the lawns and sweeping them, until the grass and the dark flat rosettes where the daisy plants had been seemed to shine. As for the roses, you could not help feeling they understand that roses are the only flowers that impress people at garden parties; the only flowers that everybody is certain of knowing. Hundreds, yes, literally hundreds, had come out in a single night; the green bushes bowed down as though they had been visited by archangels."
I read this story when I was much younger and though it ends on rather a tragic note, Mansfield's description of the excitement of a family preparing for a garden party on a perfect summer's day has remained with me. She really does capture the freshness and lushness of early summer.
I have to add EF Benson's "Mapp and Lucia" novels here. The series of 6 novels written in the 1920s and 30s trace the antics of a comfortable middle class woman and her neighbours living in rural England. Village life has never seemed so exciting, so compelling! I have read the novels countless times and I never fail to pine for their tiny genteel world and all of their gossip, schemes and fads. It's light and almost compulsory summer reading.
Here's a clip for Kraftwerk's "Tour de France", a beautiful and evocative piece of music. And it has images of vintage cycling plus references to the south of France, so how summery is that!
And while I'm thinking about music, here's a few more. Apologies for only having a few 80s songs. I guess when I'm thinking about summer, I get nostalgic, but I hope to maybe add to this list in the future to include a much broader range of songs:
So, what else reminds me of summer: yellow and white striped paper straws, waxed cups, iceblocks, the sound of sprinklers (for this, see the opening scenes of "The Day of the Locusts") and the opening notes of Issey Miyake's "L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme" (which I think is the smell of yuzu).
I love the scene in "The Great Gatsby" where Nick holds a tea party and invites Daisy and Jay to his home - it's raining but warm and his house is filled with (Jay's) white flowers and silver. In fact, this novel is very summery overall, and I'm very familiar with the tired, tension filled atmosphere of that hot stifling day they all decide to drive to Manhattan.
And finally, here is my holga nod to summer: