Growing up, it was what we lived for in Maine. The well-deserved break from ice and snow and mud for six months, the freedom of NO SCHOOL, early mornings at the barn riding in the woods and fields, day after day at the beach, slightly loopy dehydration in the evenings, BBQ, slapping at mosquitoes, exploring the woods, watching the garden grow. Spending a week "on vacation" at the lake. Rainy days spent reading.
Even after growing up a bit and having to get a summertime job, there was still enough time to get a little tan and sand, and perhaps a day or two to don the chaps and go out for a ride.
Then, New York happened.
The swampy gross humidity, the merciless sun, the overcrowded garbage-strewn beaches, afternoon thunderstorms that took down trees and scared the bejesus out of me, the smell of rotting garbage and sticky gross sidewalks everywhere, getting to work in the morning already drenched with sweat. Days spent finding the coldest movie theaters in the city, and camping out watching one terrible special effect after another until walking back out into the oven is inevitable. Most days, it was too hot to do much of anything except sit in front of the AC and occasionally reach a sticky hand into the freezer to pull out a pint of whatever overpriced artisan gelato that is suddenly worth its weight in gold. I spent years spending the summer months, moving sloth-like from one overly air conditioned space to the next. It was enough to turn me off summers completely, and I lived for the first little dance of fall to lift my spirits, along with the occasional week-long trips back to Maine to remember what summer is really supposed to be like.
But now, London.
Last February, I was fabric shopping at my favorite shop. I pulled out the pattern from my handbag to show the helpful sales clerks what I was planning on making- a cute summery frock, sleeveless and flirty. They gasped in horror. "Are you planning on spending the summer here?", they asked. Yes, in fact, I was planning on spending the summer traipsing around London in my cute little summer dress. "We don't get much of a summer here...it's not exactly warm and dry." I felt discouraged, but I bought lawn cotton anyway. Screw it, I'll wear layers over it.
It's been consistently between 60-75 degrees every day since 1 May. It rains some days, but usually in fits and starts, with opportunities to run out and get some errands done with your sunglasses on and umbrella in hand. It can be breezy and cool, and a perfect for hiking. We've been working the grill almost every night, and occasionally when the sun dips below the horizon after 9pm, it's occasionally still pleasant enough to sit outside and enjoy our balcony, and never so warm that I am sweating and sticking to my seat on the tube. I've been getting up early on the weekdays and going horseback riding in Wimbledon Common, and now that the mud has dried up, I'm actually hoping for a little rain to quell the dust.
It's been perfect. Aside from the fact that I am always looking to escape the city, I'm actually enjoying summer here. It's not beachy hot, but I've been bravely wearing sundresses with a scarf and cardigan and occasionally leggings. I find myself really enjoying it.
A series of events has taken up my weekends, so no big hikes as of late. Soon, there will be more. Until then, London.
St James Park is positively glorious. The birds, the lakes, the flowers and trees. The views.
It becomes a painterly landscape.
Tourist and locals alike take to the streets and parks and riversides. Bars and pubs overflow and people will sit out anywhere they can to drink beer and pitchers of Pimms with friends and strangers. The additional camaraderie of Wimbledon tennis and World Cup football makes things even more interesting as bars with tvs show the events, and bars without tvs become peaceful respites.
But alas, it is London. You better be craving fish and chips and sausage rolls and steak and kidney pies if you want to eat at any establishment. They don't seem to switch to lighter, summery ingredients here. That's a DIY project.