Sunday, 21 July 2013

A summer week

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?

31 comments:

  1. Once again I am amused at how similar our lives are - you in Wales and I here in the Pacific Northwest. If we hadn't met, I'd believe I've imagined you. We too are having a heat wave and are grateful for a stone house with stone floors. Wee Rory collapses after every short walk - a Cairn rug on the cool floor! Watering is my early morning and late evening chore - a lovely, quiet time for me. Time to think and plan as I aim the water and slap the bugs. It's just past 0700 here and in a few minutes we'll head for Witty's Beach to enjoy the low tide before the sun is too high. A walk in bare feet on the tidal flat is a ritual of summer that grounds me - it's a different view of my favourite, healing place. It sounds like we are both having a summer from our childhood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "A summer from our childhood" - what a lovely phrase. Perhaps for me a summer from my adolescence, that dreamy time when I was around fourteen and playing between childhood and adulthood. I remember that my friend and I decided that bare feet were essential to look like our heroines and heroes. I have enjoyed being barefoot again this past two weeks.

      Delete
  2. We used that Khalil Gibran quote in our wedding ceremony - it's one of the best ever! 8-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a wonderful quote isn't it. It still speaks to me twenty years after I first read it.

      Delete
  3. This is such a lovely thoughtful post Elizabeth. I am also a great Gibran
    fan - there is so much in his writing which is just as true today as it ever was.
    I am glad you are enjoying the sun - I think it is fortifying us all for the
    Winter ahead, we were after all sadly in need of some sunshine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have found that I need that fortifying for winter. I think this year I should be ok!

      Delete
  4. A lovely contented post, and the Gibran quote so touching and so true.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Replies
    1. Thank you for commenting Hildred. There is especial meaning in the quote for you I know.

      Delete
  6. Just lovely. We have two daughters and two granddaughters arriving next week for several days, and even as I worry about what I need to get done before they're here, what I won't be able to do while they're here, I'm already anticipating and savouring how they will give me an excuse to push that other stuff aside for a while, to keep me right in the moment, just as you describe it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think children and dogs both help you to be in the moment! Enjoy your family time.

      Delete
  7. Love that quote and also your insight into the ways in which summer benefits your psyche. I lived in the UK for a few years and would just ache for a warm summers day, the hotter the better! Thanks for a lovely read :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I lived in New Zealand for a while and what I missed most when I came to the UK was the vividness of the sky! Everything seemed to come in shades of grey in the UK. Mind you, not this last month!

      Delete
  8. I feel just the same as you Elizabeth. It has been like living in the South of France, not Wales, for weeks now and I am a different person!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is astonishing what it can do to your psyche. Now that the temperature has fallen back to normal I have lost that "different person" sense. Perhaps it needs to be above 25 degrees!

      Delete
  9. Love the way you write! To answer the question, summer is not going as magically as yours with city concrete acting like economy 7 and billowing out at night especially. Meanwhile the grass in the parks is tanning nicely but I would not swap any of it for those soggy bottom summers of recent times. Am managing daily tai chi in the early morning in the Bloomsbury square which sets me up for the day. Just need to see more of the countryside and the family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't tell you how chuffed I am to have your favourable comment on my writing. It means a lot from a judge like you!

      Delete
  10. With words you draw a blissful idyll, scenes reminiscent of childhoods long ago and distant ~and was not this last week or so the most wonderful change, having to deal with the often overwhelming heat after so many dank and dreary summers of late? Being slightly south of you, we suffer with coastal fogs through the summer months, which temper warmth, and so it is today ~back to normal then? It is July, I am cold, it must be Summer in Wales ~~~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We don't really have fogs up here but we do have wind and rain from time to time - not now though!

      Delete
  11. Interesting about the cool building. We need much more thinking about how to manage buildings without turning on the electrics. This house in Italy stays cool, because it's got a north side and we keep the shutters closed but the windows open.

    9 water butts! Respect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our house does cool very well. In order to do warm in winter it needs fires!

      Delete
  12. Struggling with the heat a bit but have been swimming in the river and sea for the first time in MANY years, which has been amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It takes real heat to make the idea of swimming in the sea in the UK appealing, but it did occur to me!

      Delete
  13. What a lovely time you had - and perfect weather, too. Like you I have the benefit of a cold stone house but this summer has seen me closing windows and blinds in an attempt to keep it so once the sun moves round. I'm not complaining!

    (But I wouldn't mind some rain at night to fill up the water butts. Hint...)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A couple of storms and downpours has refilled the water butts here, and for you too I imagine.

      Delete
  14. I heard it's been unusually hot in the UK. We suffered through a heat wave too but now it's better. Like you, we've been cooling off in the sea with family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The temperature has fallen in this last week. This is good for getting anything done but I did love the heat while it lasted!

      Delete
  15. Like you, I have loved having bare feet again, and so appreciate the stone flags in the hall! But today it rained terribly for our afternoon tea outdoors with our lovely neighbours - two large parasols were needed, but we really didn't want to come inside again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Afternoon tea under large parasols sounds like the essential English experience.

      Delete
  16. This is beautifully written. I need warmth and sun and a summer without it would be painful. It's been hot and dry here for two weeks but I haven't minded it. The butterflies were out by the dozen and it was good to get outside and work up a sweat. :o) But I'm very glad for today's soaking rain that filled up my rain barrels.

    ReplyDelete
  17. You describe a truly magical time, and I so relate to feeling as if I am expanding, opening up to the sun, and to the rejuvenating effects of walking in bare feet and getting sand between the toes. We had a respite in the kitchen renovations with visitors staying, and it similarly put me back in the now, re-energising me for Phase Two. Now I just have to learn the trick of creating these small oases of calm "now" without the presence of visitors... Enjoy the rest of your summer!

    ReplyDelete

Comments are great. Thank you for taking the time!