Photos from the Jardin du Luxembourg on a Sunday morning. Old men playing chess under a canopy. Hidden away in the groves of trees, a man practises moving a sword around. People sit on benches in the shade, enjoying the last weekend of the August holiday.
You know it’s going to be hot and sticky when it’s still only half-seven in the morning and you can already see the inversion layer.
Inversion layer: when warm air gets trapped under colder. It lies, stagnant. You can see it, because it fills up with trapped smoke and muck and pollution. Even in the countryside, it sticks like a brown haze.
When you see that, you know it’s going to be a nasty, sticky day.
When I write posts on here, I normally write the title first, then ramble on about it.
Yesterday, I managed to write a title, then ramble on about something entirely unrelated to the post I was meaning to write when I started. Which was, you might be able to guess, going to have been about the weather.
We’ve only just changed the clocks, shifted an hour, and already the character of the day seems to have entirely changed. Already, whatever the temperature is outside, it seems like balmy summer days are here again. Already that lazy, depressing summer evening feeling is back. It doesn’t last very long, because it’s getting dark again by half-seven still, but it’s there already.
The morning hasn’t sorted itself out yet. Every morning so far this week I’ve driven to work through thick fog, as if the weather is still trying to work out what to do, and is trying to hide its ignorance. Thick fog all the way, except when crossing the Big Expensive Bridge. Each end of the Big Bridge is befogged, but the middle, as the deck peaks, breaks out through the fog into bright yellow morning daylight.
I was thinking: really, I should post something newsworthy, or political, because there hasn’t been much of that on here lately. Nothing in the news has caught my eye, though – it’s all been football-related, and I really couldn’t care one way or the other about it. Then, though, I remembered that today is the summer solstice.*
I’ve been wondering lately: what is the appropriate date for me to do an “end of the year” post. Is it January 1st? Probably not, to be honest. December 21st feels like a much better fit. Samhain would be appropriate, too; and, of course, I’ll have to post something on August 27th, just because that marks a year of blogging here. But today is also a good day to reflect on the changing seasons.
All of the yearly festivals are to some extent dual-faced. Today is a largely time to celebrate summer happiness, but it’s also a time to remember that winter is on its way. I can sit back and look around me, looking at how happy I am right now; but there’s still a long way to go. I’m in a good place at the moment, much happier than I was a year, two years, three years ago, but I’m still wary that something will happen to push me back where I once was.
On the other hand, it’s now High Summer, and I can see that reflected in my life. I am getting a social life once more. I am making friends, and I realise now that I’m a lot better at relating to people, and handling friendship. I’m learning how to avoid driving friends away, too. I’m finding myself. I’ve been learning a lot about my physical body, and learning to appreciate it a little more. I’m even getting better at taking compliments, rather than just stammering: “um … no … really, that’s not true.” Midsummer is a time to appreciate passion and feeling; and I’m even starting to understand that better too.**
* Actually, I haven’t checked the ephemerides to see if it is today. Occasionally it can fall slightly to the side, and the official astronomical solstice is now a few days further on.***
** even if it is in theory rather than practice.
*** Update, August 26th 2020: I have finally looked this up, and the summer solstice in 2006 was indeed on June 21st, at 12:26 UTC.
Driving to work this morning: the sun was warm, and the sky blue. Leaving the office at lunch time: the car was hot, and I zoomed along with the windows down.* “Lovely,” I thought, “why not go to the beach?”
So, I popped down to the seafront, and sat down on the beach with my sandwiches.
And, as soon as I did, the heavens opened. It pissed down.
It’s not quite summer yet.
* and with a Herman Düne album on the stereo.
Today must have been the first day of summer.
I’m not saying that because the clocks change tonight,* or because The Parents have gone on holiday, or for some other obscure astronomical reason. Today was the first day that really felt like summer. It’s not just about being warm, or sunny, but there’s something in the air. I wanted to go out into the garden and lie back in a deckchair sipping a gin and tonic. Of course, as I don’t have a deckchair, and couldn’t be bothered to nip down to the local branch of Deckchair World,** I didn’t. And now it’s pouring down again. That’s this year’s summer gone, then.
* they do, don’t they?
** “Do you need more deckchairs in your life? Come straight down to Deckchair World – we’ve got the deckchair to suit you! Green stripes! Red stripes! Blue stripes! Special offers galore – buy two deckchairs, get one free! Come down and see us – branches in Scunthorpe, Withernsea, Beverley, Barrow and Goole.” I’ve started listening to local radio a lot more recently, and it probably shows.