I expect heat in summer. That is daft really. I don't live in the South of France or Italy, I live in North Wales, but somehow an adolescence spent in New Zealand where the sky is reliably blue for months and the natural colour of everyone's skin is a light tan has left me with an expectation that in summer the sun will shine and I will eat breakfast outside and walk in bare feet and seek the shade. The last few summers have been so wet and grey and cold as to be non existent. I don't think I had realised quite how much the absence of sun had got to me until the temperature soared and the sun was hot on my skin and every morning I woke to sunshine and warm wind. I find I have relaxed deep down inside myself. The brightness of the light has made me smile. Walking around with bare feet has made me feel young again although the green valley is bleaching with the sun.
Our house is great when it is really hot. The old stone walls create a cool haven when the sun drives you inside. The kitchen used to be the dairy when the property was a farm and dairies had to be cool. It is at the North end of the house and the floor is made of huge old slate flagstones which hold the deep cool of the earth on the hottest day. I have been looking after my son and daughter in law's lovely dog and from time to time she has come in out of the sun to lie on the slate, panting and smiling and taking up the cool of the floor.
This last week older daughter, son in law and three year old grandson have also been staying. Life has taken on the pace and simplicity of life with a three year old. Days start early but sunnily. Feeding the cat, letting out the chickens, taking the dog for a turn around the field, hanging out the washing, all of these things absorb us for much of the morning. By lunchtime the sun is so hot we retreat to the rug under the tree where his parents snooze until Joseph bounces down to sit on his father's back: "Look Grandma, I am sitting on my little sofa!".
For a couple of days our older grandson, now the venerable age of seven, comes over too. Joseph thinks he is marvellous and Samuel is very good with him, quite enjoying being the older one who knows how everything works. He likes that he can stay up after Joseph has gone to bed, helping with watering the vegetable beds. Ian's provisions for watering, which have looked a little redundant over the last two soggy summers, suddenly come into their own. The levels in the nine water butts begin to drop but the big tanks which take the water off the house roof, the workshop roof and the barn roof still have plenty in them and the submersible pumps whirr and the spring's rain falls on the beans and the onions.
We have one long day at the beach and we end another couple of days with a visit in the late afternoon as the tide is rising. Emma and Ian swim, the dog and the boy rush in and out of the water. My father in law, who has loved having the children around, sits in the car or on the sea wall and watches. On the last day we have fish and chips to round off the week. I have not been so firmly in the moment for months. Sunshine, gentle dog, cheery child: they all anchor me to the now, to the sand between my toes and the boy squealing with delight as he splashes his mum and dad.
They have gone now, leaving a too silent house, but tomorrow Ian comes home from a trekking holiday away and younger daughter and her fiance and lovely dog all come to stay as part of their moving house. It is a long, long time since Ian went away for this length of time, in fact since his father came to stay he rarely goes away at all. I hope he has had a good time. It is a good thing to have these times apart.
"Let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of heaven dance between you." I believe this and I have lived it until recent life narrowed our horizons.
I can't wait to see him.
How is your summer going?