Forget Brexit, Boris, the lot. It’s the weather! Those of us who lived through the summer of ’76 have forever etched in our memories flares, cheesecloth and long, hot carefree days whose soundtrack, for me, was the Eagles and ‘Lyin’ Eyes’. The perfect song. Time in a bottle. Sadly, no one has ever discovered how to save it in a bottle – including Jim Croce – but how I wish I could …
Anyway, fast forward 43 years and we might as well be living on Mars! This might be summer, Jim, but not as we know it. Years from now, when I look back to 2019, not only shall I come out in a cold sweat but I shall immediately think grey. Strangely, I liken it to the aftermath of a nuclear attack – bear with – as we are buried beneath a blanket of gloom tantamount to the onset of night. There is an eery stillness which transcends and one must pinch oneself in a bid to remember that it is actually August; well, August in an Amazon rainforest, that is! Record-breaking temperatures and humidity prove the catalyst for frequent bouts of thunder and lightning along with tropical rainfall of such volume and intensity as to render reservoir dams and river walls of little consequence. British Summertime? I don’t think so.
As Brits, the weather has always been our number one topic of conversation – and deservedly so. Changeable, almost sadistic, it could never be guaranteed but, once upon a time, there were four clearly defined seasons which served as the backdrop to our lives. Spring never failed to return and as the first snowdrops brought the promise of the crocuses and daffodils to come, the countryside burst into life and one couldn’t help but look forward; forward to warmer days and the abundance of rhododendrons in May, my favourite flowers since childhood. As though following an unwritten script, summer did come to the sunny land – does anyone else remember that little song? Driving to our holiday destination, us children piled in the back with me in the middle as ever, we used to sing at the top of our voices, ‘Summer has come to the sunny land, Summer is here to stay …’ No? Just me, then. Think of it as our version of Cliff’s ‘Summer Holiday’!
My point is that, although individual days could be unpredictable, the seasons were constant. Summer meant swimming in the sea, regardless, with the promise of a chittery bite as reward. The dunes would be littered with windbreaks as families enjoyed picnics and time together outdoors. Humidity was unheard of as we enjoyed halcyon days in the fresh air, not a phone in sight. Turn a different corner … if only.
How I love Autumn! Always have. Is that because I was born in October? Does the month of one’s birth affect one’s affinity to a certain season? I’m convinced it does. Suffice to say, I like nothing more than the characteristic crisp, cold days; the glorious colours of the changing leaves, stubble fields, collecting conkers, the smell of wood burning and, my favourite, the sight and sound of the wild geese flying south for the winter. One of my most treasured memories from childhood is that of being out riding in the stubble fields as the sun was going down, late afternoon, and stopping to watch the wild geese fly overhead in meticulous formation. The feeling of freedom. At one with nature and with one’s thoughts. I couldn’t have felt happier or more secure. In a sense, I have saved time in a bottle …
Winters meant cosy. Cosy nights watching our favourite television programmes with the fire on and the curtains closed. Dinners of delicious homemade stews and steam puddings as we gathered round the table, as a family, and chatted about our day. That feeling of warmth and security I have taken with me and it has protected me to this day. Similarly, the excitement of snow and Christmas, both guaranteed. Now, there’s a word which is destined for the past. Nothing is guaranteed in this scary world – I should know – and certainly not the weather. However, the increasing arrogance of man is deserving of reprimand. Succumbing to greed, we have ensured the extinction of species and habitat , ironically, upon which our very existence is dependent. An erstwhile film title comes to mind: Dumb and Dumber. Supposedly the superior race, our arrogance/ignorance has ensured, only, that we have destroyed our planet and all who thrived on it. If only we had paid heed to the Native Americans who live their lives in harmony with nature instead of stealing their land and denying their freedom. I’m sure they, too, would give credence to the mighty elephant whose majesty we have all but erased and from whom we could have learned so much. Future generations? Will there be any? Mighty Nature is fighting back in the form of our self-inflicted global warming – or, perhaps, that should be ‘warning’? No matter. No heed. Weirdly, it seems a fitting end. God created this wonderful planet and gifted it, as it were, to Man in the form of Adam and Eve. Tempted by the apple, Eve succumbed to greed and the rest is history. The domino effect has been immense. All-consuming, there is no stopping this train powered by materialism. The onset of technology has ensured isolation of epidemic proportion and, devoid of connection, there is no voice of reason with the power to derail. In the words of Frazer in the infamous 70’s sitcom, Dad’s Army, ‘We’re doomed!’. Is it too late to adhere to the words of my friend, James, who believes one must ‘Regress to Progress’?
Cheery. To think I was going to write about my plant! In all seriousness, I have a plant which has grown to enormous proportions but, to which, I have become attached. A palm of some sort, it loved the conservatory kitchen of its former home but, here, it has taken root in a living room half the size and its presence is prohibitive to any sort of order! Here for over a month now, each morning I start the day by contemplating the position of said plant. In the absence of any movement, no progress can be made as to positioning of furniture and a semblance of calm; in short, the plant has to go! Then there are the pictures … One practical friend questioned my need to unpack all in view of the fact that said abode was not permanent? She has a point but, then, walls do not constitute a home without one’s personal stamp even if it’s only short-term. I have always said, even if I end up in a teepee, it will be a teepee to end all teepees! Full of character and decorated in wonderful art. A home in the true sense of the word.
‘If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
‘Til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you.
If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you … ‘
Time in a Bottle, Jim Croce.
This is Trish, signing off.