Summer days, swimming days and those summer nights.

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“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.’ Albert Camus

‘Hey what did I hear you say … you love summer?  Ditto darling – I am intoxicated by it. Born in the Southern hemisphere, summer is in my blood.

Love the seasons, truly I do.  Something about Paris in winter, London in autumn, but summer, summer is the happiest time for me.

I remember myself in summer as a child.  Swimming until my blond hair turned green.  Swimming all afternoon, after homework, after sports and washing my hair with ‘Beer on tap’ (remember that?)  We were allowed to play outside in our pyjamas. Parents were happier in summer, as were we, holidays at the beach, romances fleeting but poignant, besties sharing secrets beside the pool.  Growing up was summer in my mind.

IMG_1090 2 Remember the tanning?  Cooking oil.  How the records we played warped in the sun? Nut brown and happy. Summer solved everything. Even drinking Coca cola. Times we swam in dams on farms, shrilling at the thought of a barbar nibbling at our toes.  Times in the river, but it was ok, we were brown skinned, carefree and unafraid. Accomplishing the ‘back dive’ without death was a serious achievement. Achievements were small in the huge world of things but these were ours, as were our summers of teenage transition and longing for the bikini moment.

My children are summer children. Grew up in the sun.  Skinny, naked bodies in the water. Wandering in rock pools. Swimming birthday parties. Slightly sun kissed, in their pj’s playing games in the garden until late in the evening. Barbecue children.  Farm children in the summer when going on a night drive was fun for finding spring hares and living by the light. Watermelon children, marco polo children – children who understood the idea of playing no matter the heat, but those summer evenings made all the difference.

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Living in a costume has to be a privilege. Better to play, to lie on the grass and glance at the clouds, make mud houses and climb trees. Stripped of everything. Sleeping with open windows at bedtime, waking to the sun.  That is summer.

As I sit here tonight in London, it has been a very hot day.  A glorious day.  People hit the parks, and wilted on public transport. Families held picnics in shade, hats on, white skins, languishing in the gift of sun.  And I thought, this is great, this is summer, but also … thought, I remember the halcyon days of summer when water was close, swimming was all and those nights on, not my balcony, but on my veranda, smells of braaivleis, light natural till ten, families together and children running, swimming, and the laughter … the laughter of being outdoor summer babies.

For me, the evening swim when it got too hot, naked in the water … that was when I knew I was a summer baby. It was a long time ago, but it was the most free I ever felt.

2 thoughts on “Summer days, swimming days and those summer nights.

  1. Loved your piece on summer. I too am a summer person and had a similar upbringing to yours. Tanned and skinny and always swimming or water skiing or in the waves on the south coast. I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have. I would love to be able to go back and re live those happy days. I think we all took those times for granted and why not – we didn’t have the perspective we have now.
    Though today in Oakland, California, we are wilting from the heat of a heatwave and it’s too hot to do anything. No air conditioning here as we normally don’t need it but no pool either. 90 F for us is way too hot and my garden is wilting. I am watering it twice a day. Thank goodness the drought is over!
    I remember being in London one August where the temperature was 90 F/33 C and praying it would be a short lived heatwave. It was.
    Now we here in the Bay Area can’t wait for the fog to roll back in under the Golden Gate Bridge. We will all heave a sigh of relief.

    1. Hi Peggy. Thanks for the reply. London is wilting too! Tube taking means a free sauna and all those tourist just look so beaten. You have a garden! That is amazing and something I miss everyday, the little one I have in Somerset West sort of died in the drought but then only slips of grass around the house as I am seldom there and tenants do not garden, so no planting as yet. I miss those childhood days and as you say, what did we know then about how magical they were. Days I just want to go back to that, and so wish my children would be able to let their children experience that when they have them one day. But, we must also appreciate what we have and I am sitting on my little office balcony writing this to you, getting a real dress tan! Lots of love x

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