When we were a child, summer days stretched themselves out to fit in all of our daily play. We were invincible and anything was possible. As American Businessman, Darell Hammond aptly says ‘Aaah, summer – that long anticipated stretch of lazy, lingering days, free of responsibility and rife with possibility. It’s a time to hunt for insects, master handstands, practice swimming strokes, conquer trees, explore nooks and crannies, and make new friends’. So I used to go down the lane where I lived with my two friends, who were twin girls, and head for the river, where we’d romp along the sunny pathways, or play on the cool dank slabs of rock in the shade. Or we’d escape into the fields, and go to the rubbish dump where we had a den close by, and let our imaginations run riot. And anything naughty we did, was bound to happen in the summer, when school was so very far away and any chance of getting caught felt so blanketed from reality. These were days of scrapes and plasters on knees, of bruises from falling from things we weren’t supposed to be climbing on. We’d bounce around on our space hoppers, or chant songs on the swing in the back garden, or raid the roses to make rose-petal perfume, adding water in jam jars to our pickings and we’d convince ourselves, after a few weeks, that the murky mess was ready to apply behind our ears. This is what I remember about summer days back then. And they were the best summer days of all.
Nowadays, for me, the best of it is mostly about nature. Watching my garden mature into a full flowering, going for walks down leafy lanes, or pacing the tractor tracks through wheat and barley fields, trailing my fingers along the feathery tips. Or sitting in the garden, letting the heat soak into me, marvelling at the feeling of well being it brings while watching the passing clouds overhead. Or hearing the tinkling laughter of a weekend family gathering around a neighbour’s barbecue, a neighbour who’s growing his own vegetables and tomatoes with a vengence, which I watered recently when he went away for a seaside stay. For most of us, summer seems to be about getting out and about in our shorts or cotton dresses, or going on holiday to tropical places, or for romance and new enterprises, but certainly not for staying indoors.
And there’s the rub. I don’t know about you, but if that sun is shining and making life glow, I want to get out into it, not closet myself at my keyboard to write, while mother nature celebrates this seasonal abundance without me. So I relent, my productivity goes down, and then I feel guilty, the inner critic having its way with me. It’s then I long for rainy days to give me sanction to stay in and write or paint. And living in Scotland these days arrive, but the fluctuations of associated mood can be hard to handle. It’s like, right, okay – here’s a rainy weekend day, I can stay in and work. Oh no, now it’s sunny again, I should go out. I must go out! In, out, in, out, and shake it all about – such is a British summer.
Moving on to a bit of symbolism…in Chinese philosophy, summer is associated with the passionate colour of red, with the sound of laughter, with heart and fire, and is considered to be the most yang season, to balance the yin of winter. And in a similar vein, it seems to me that summer for creatives may be about wanting the ‘seeds’ we’ve sown to now flourish and flower. We may feel the need for our projects to mature, for us to feel a sense of healthy growth, light and energy, as opposed to them succumbing to the shade. So this is what we are probably dealing with in these summer months.
And to finish these ramblings, here’s a poem on summer, by Romantic poet, John Clare (1793-1864). He was an English farm labourer’s son, who worked the land, which means a great deal to me, as his observations were obviously very much first hand and heart felt:
Come we to the summer, to the summer we will come,
For the woods are full of bluebells and the hedges full of bloom,
And the crow is on the oak a-building of her nest,
And love is burning diamonds in my true lover’s breast;
She sits beneath the whitethorn a-plaiting of her hair,
And I will to my true lover with a fond request repair;
I will look upon her face, I will in her beauty rest,
And lay my aching weariness upon her lovely breast.
The clock-a-clay is creeping on the open bloom of May,
The merry bee is trampling the pinky threads all day,
And the chaffinch it is brooding on its grey mossy nest
In the whitethorn bush where I will lean upon my lover’s breast;
I’ll lean upon her breast and I’ll whisper in her ear
That I cannot get a wink o’sleep for thinking of my dear;
I hunger at my meat and I daily fade away
Like the hedge rose that is broken in the heat of the day.
Wishing you flowering within your projects, but also plenty of time to enjoy whatever lazy hazy days of summer come your way – and may you keep the balance right for you.
(pics courtesy of pixabay)