It’s the dust in the air and the freedom everywhere
Been waitin’ all year, now it’s finally here
The lyrics of this Dierks Bentley song summarises perfectly the mood; school is out, the holidays are upon us, the weather has taken its cue since the thermometer has climbed several degrees and the sun has come out to play.
I am head over heels in love with summer right now. The sounds, the smells, the sights, and the many other iconic symbols of these warmer months take me back to my youth in the blink of an eye; I could be back at my childhood home on our farm, watching the combine churning past waiting for my father to bale the straw so that we could then jump them all day long on our ponies. Despite the fact we lived in England, I always remember my childhood summers as long periods of sun and blue skies, and strangely I don’t remember it ever raining! Our summer holidays at home were the best holidays anyone could ever ask for, we never went away for it’s the busiest time of year for farmers; we didn’t need to though. I remember life being as perfect as it could be and that’s really all I want for my own children. If they can grow old with memories as sweet as mine then they’ll be recounting the same memories to their own children in the decades to come and that surely, is what summer is all about.
I also clearly remember shelling peas; we would sit for hours on the lawn outside the back door, my sister and I, performing this mundane task.
Undeniably the scent of summer has to come from Sweet Peas. Here they grow wild beside the road. My father grew them in abundance, in all colours; they are the most rewarding of plants, and the more we would cut them, the more they would grow. They are one of my favourite flowers for the house, a sweet smelling vase of tangled blooms on the kitchen table.
Here in the Charente Maritime with our hot summers we can almost set our watches according to the position of shutters. At night they are tightly closed. In the mornings, shutters and windows are flung wide open to let in the cool fresh morning air. As midday approaches the windows remain open but their shutters are semi-closed, acting as a pair of sunglasses blocking out the heat and light, keeping the house cool. It is interesting to note the difference between the southern Europeans from their northern cousins in this respect too. The Southerners stick to the shutter routine religiously, having spent a lifetime in the heat. Northerners (including us Anglophiles) tend to keep our shutters open at strange times, allowing in a little heat I must admit, but more importantly it lets in the light! We have, on more than one occasion, been called les fous anglais, a good-natured joke that pokes fun at our misuse of shutters!
Sunflowers abound, their bright yellow petals piercing the view for miles around, nodding their heads in the heat of the day as they turn to follow the sun from dawn ’til dusk.
No thoughts about summer would be complete without a little mention of the garden and plants; the oleander, whose looks bely its poisonous parts.
Lavender, ideally planted where one brushes past, so the scent wafts through the air and perhaps my favourite, hibiscus. There are, of course, grapes ripening on the vines, along walls, in gardens and row upon row, acre upon acre in the fields.
I couldn’t forget the ever present hollyhocks; not only are they on every street corner and outside every house but they also grow prolifically in our own garden, punctuating the flower beds with their tall spires of flowers.
Open-top cars, modern and vintage. We spotted this beauty whilst walking the dogs the other day; unsurprisingly I had my camera with me and I snapped away. The owners were sitting in their garden sipping aperitifs, they came over to chat. This car had always been owned by their family, now it was a hobby, a toy to be played with on warm sunny days.
No summer would be complete without endless days on the beach, with the smell of suncream
and ice cream!
The sounds of summer; music and birds, the splashing of water from the pool and the sizzling of meat on the barbecue. Insects hard at work, the hum of the dragonfly
and the buzzing of the bee, one of our main pollinators just going about a days work
and the hummingbird hawkmoth, a migrant from that vast heat-shimmering continent to the south over the sea.
Summer reading is a must too, finding time to enjoy a little time with a magazine, outdoors in a shady spot
and that endless blue sky, a colour so rich and vibrant; if it were a painting one would think it unrealistic.
Summer food, a treat well worth waiting for; watermelons and melons, our local ones are the famous Charentais variety from this region
and vine-ripened tomatoes, still warm from the sun; we grow them in huge quantities so we can feast on the glut and still have enough to make sauces and other dishes to freeze
Summer also means baby chicks, our Frizzle bantams are now six weeks old and our Silkie chicks, I apologise I’ve been a little rude and not introduced you to these yet, are now two weeks old, delightful little bundles of pure yellow fluff.
There are so many fabulous things about summer; breakfast outside on the terrace, kids camping in the garden, endless summer sports on the lawn and the beach, the Tour de France, and Wimbledon of course! The smell of rain on parched earth after a much needed storm. I could go on for hours, I’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg, but then I’d be keeping you from enjoying the very things I am writing about.
Just one final favourite though; those long summer evenings when the sun is still shining brightly at 9pm and it doesn’t get dark until after 10, when sun-warmed children fall asleep on your lap about a darkening garden table lit by candles.
It goes way too fast, it all disappears
And when it’s gone, we’ll still be here
Hangin’ ’round, missin’ the sounds of summer
I’m going to savour every minute of summer; I don’t want it to rush by in a flash, I want to slow everything down a little, go down a gear, and relax. When you’ve got a moment to spare, tell me what says ‘summer’ more than anything else to you?
P.S. this is a photo of the rear view of the car, it is a Ford T Model from the mid 1930’s. This photo is for Mary from Ohio, who was so interested, thank you x