The sun was out the other day. It’s not something that can be counted on every day. Growing up in Ireland I learned quickly to be skeptical that the sun schedule was in anyway linked to the calendar. As many Irish people will tell you it seems more closely tied to exam schedules. But when it does appear it causes a change in mood – an elevation of happiness.
I now live in Buffalo, New York. Not the place to go to chase the sun, but summer days in Buffalo can be almost perfect.
There is something that seems natural about having a cold on a wintery, November day, or the flu on a frozen, February day, but being sick on a bright, hot summer day, seems a little unnatural - a contradiction of the natural order.
Even death seems more appropriate in winter. Patrick Kavanagh, the Irish poet, wrote of how “October-coloured weather” reminded him of his dead father. (i) Perhaps, it is because my father passed in November that summer seems to be correlated with life and not death.
The aliveness of a perfect June day, when inside is as good as out, makes everywhere a comfortable place. This is the time to enjoy. A day it feels painful to be stuck in the office while the whole world is out playing. Is this a holdover from school holidays or vacations (divided by a common language and all that) that conditions us to want time off?
When it’s warm we are comfortable. We want to slow down. To relax. Journeys don’t have to be rushed to escape from the cold. No pragmatic dashes from place to place. The journey itself becomes a pleasure. We walk rather than drive. Searching for a destination to justify our ramble rather than minimizing trips out into the cold.
Summer is a time of storing up of rest. A time when hopefully most of us can get some sort of relaxation and escape from the rest of the year. It’s not that we want to do nothing, in fact, many people enjoying hiking and other forms of exercise to help them relax. Some even enjoy camping without all of the comforts of home that supposedly make our lives easier and more convenient.
Maybe you live somewhere that enjoys good weather all year round. I was going to say that I envy you before I considered it some more. Summer, when it comes to Dublin or Buffalo, is a sharp contrast to the rest of the year. In my experience, Dubliners and Buffalonians make sure they don’t let the summer pass them by. Summer is a time to focus on the wonder of being alive, and the truth that no matter how financially successful we may or may not be, one of the most valuable things we can do is rest and enjoy the natural beauty all around us, under a hot, lazy sun.
We only have so many summer days. We only have so many summers.
(i) Patrick Kavanagh, "Memory of My Father", available here.