Summer treasure 2: Warm Evenings

10/7/2018 The only times I remember getting up in the morning and taking for granted that I would open the curtains to sunshine and warmth have been in Spain or the south of France. But during the last two months I have noticed myself doing just that. I get out of bed with a spring in my step, and I feel as though I am on holiday even if I have so much to do that I barely stop all day.

The grass is parched for the first time in a decade or more, and the words that I could never understand hearing my friends say, ‘it’s too hot for me’, have definitely passed through my head, if not my lips, on more than one occasion. I have been finding it preferable to embrace the sweat by undertaking some active job in the garden than to engage in futile efforts to stay cool by sitting still in the shade. And – unbelievably – I have found myself taking respite in the house during the hottest parts of the day. Which, admittedly, has proved of benefit to the decorating jobs required in my recently renovated bedroom, and my desire not to miss all of Wimbledon.

The lack of water is my only growing concern. I leave the grass to its own devices, but trying to keep my potted plants, soft fruits and vegetables alive and productive has become a daily chore, and my water butts are empty for the first time since I installed them. A huge thunderstorm and downpour would be exceptionally welcome…

I have a particular love for one aspect of this hot weather: being able to sit outside till late in the evening with barely a need for long sleeves. It is not something we are used to in this country, even in the summer, and it is probably the thing I miss most about Spain. I am sure that it is a crucial ingredient in the more laid-back feel of Mediterranean countries, and I think it temporarily changes our characters for the better: everyone is happier, more relaxed and more friendly.

Whether eating supper outside with friends, or simply enjoying some quiet time listening to the birds and absorbing the beauty of the evening sunlight, or going for a walk after supper when the air has cooled down enough to be pleasantly warm, these are rare treats. The smell of the summer air is different in the evening and the opportunity to breathe it in without bracing oneself against the cold is part of those treats.

But it is amazing how quickly all this starts to seem normal. I try to remind myself that in six months’ time it will seem like a distant dream. Making time to appreciate it now is not an optional extra.