Goodbye summer: Wish I hadn't complained about those long sweaty nights

Niamh Towey: It felt like the summers Bruce Springsteen and Don McLean wrote about

St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Summer in Ireland can be magical – and this year, it was just that. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Summer in Ireland can be magical – and this year, it was just that. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Summer has started to slip away from us, minute by minute, hour by hour.

I see it in the fallen leaves and falling sun; the darker mornings and cooler days.

No more office toes or bulging beer gardens, no smell of burning barbecue. I’ve stopped googling “cheap fans” and “cotton sheets” – I even think it could be time for the low-tog quilt to go.

I’ve started to sleep with the window closed, having only weeks ago longed for even the lightest breeze to ruffle the curtains and save me from the heatwave insomnia.

Summer sales no longer catch my eye – what good is the maxi skirt to me now, or the half-price sandals?

I wish I hadn’t complained about the sweaty nights and sweltering car interior; the melting ice-cream or the packed park.

Summer in Ireland can be magical – and this year, it was just that.

No waiting on sunshine, no looking out the window for the downpours to stop, no impulse buying last-minute sun holidays.

We had what seemed like endless weeks of glorious sunshine. I spent it eating outside, walking with friends, basking my face in it and staying up too late just to watch the mesmerising pink skies.

Not just once I caught myself staring at the sky, struck by its beauty – its clarity and its simplicity like a gift; something greater and more powerful than anything money could have ever bought.

It reminded me of all of the summers of my childhood, because of course it is the sunny ones you remember, not the lashing rain ones.

This summer felt like one of those Bruce Springsteen and Don McLean wrote about, the kind of summer you see in the movies.

Lavender beauty

I will remember this summer as the one I spent looking at the cityscape at dusk while sitting on top of the Papal Cross hill in the Phoenix Park. It is the one I spent sitting on garden furniture with wine and food and family.

I will remember this summer as the one I spent staring at the sky, marvelling at its lavender beauty and its sense of peace.

I wish I could save a little bit of it, and use it sparingly on those deep, dark days of winter when all I’ll wish for is a reprieve from the enclosed nature of a season lived indoors.

Some people look forward to the cosy evenings in, the lack of guilt about getting out and about, nights spent with hot drinks and thick knits.

I wish I was one of those people, because we probably get more of that kind of weather here than the kind I crave.

I think it’s in my blood though, the longing for summer sunshine. My dad needs his quota of it to revive himself, to help him face another year of work.

My mum curates all of the most positive weather predictions for the year, ignores the negative ones, and clutches on to them as a lifeline.

My granny, too, had that magnetic draw to the summer; it opened up in her a youthfulness and verve with every passing day.

Dusky sunset

Every bluebell, every late dusky sunset, every bedding plant in blossom; they were a tonic to her.

I have felt that same intoxication this summer; revelled in every minute of it, took joy from the freedom of a life lived outdoors, if even just for a while.

Now, as late August approaches, the season feels like a fruit that has almost passed its best.

That’s what makes summer so special – its rarity and its transience make it a delicacy

Like a banana whose skin has begun to crack open, and blacken, the summer of 2018 is almost ready to say goodbye.

Watching it all slip away is a little like finishing a book you’ve pored over for weeks.

You’ve been here before, you knew it had to end. There were only so many evenings you could spend ignoring reality and burying your head in another world.

There’s washing to do, sleep to be had, work to throw yourself into – and that’s a good thing too.

Life goes on

But the book – and this summer – has been your companion, your rabbit hole, your escape and now it’s gone, and life goes on.

It’ll be back, but not for a while. That’s what makes summer so special – its rarity and its transience make it a delicacy, one to be savoured and soaked up.

Summer is a release from the trudgery of a long, cold, dark winter. It is like shedding your hat, coat and scarf when you get in the door from a long day.

This summer has been a gift, one I am grateful for – but I’m sad to see it go, all the same.

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