“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.
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.
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.