Forget Christmas – June is far and away The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
I LOOKED down at my pale old feet this morning and saw that the soles were filthy – a sure sign that Summer is well and truly here.
In the Summer, as soon as the earth starts to harden after the Spring rains, I like to get in touch with nature, literally, and feel the grass of my garden beneath my bare soles.
The warm, pumice-stoney tiles of our small patio are also pleasing in a way that I can’t quite explain.
I don’t mind bringing dust into the kitchen and messing up the floor: the blacker the feet, the better the Summer.
The dirt is a sure sign that I am living right, as is swerving the tumble dryer and hanging the washing on the line instead.
Yesterday, it was dry within an hour of pegging it up and I zipped through a whole week’s wash for the entire family in less than a day.
Even the dried towels were a small joy in themselves: slightly crisp to the touch, while everything on the line had that aired-out fragrance that you can’t get from fabric conditioner alone.
Yesterday, for the first time this year, I lit the barbecue and the novelty made cooking fun, which it certainly isn’t always. The chicken was crisp and charred on the outside, the peppers smoky and caramelised.
As I worked, I had a beer or two and listened to the entertaining South Africa-Bangladesh game at the World Cup bubble to its surprise climax.
And when I was almost done, I went to the bottom of the garden and picked leaves fresh from the pots of soft lettuce and fiery Mizuna that my clever wife had planted for me a few weeks ago.
It was superior, both in flavour and texture, to anything that you would get in a shop – and gratifying not to have to pay The Man for what we were eating, for once.
Perhaps this what the Gerschwins were on about when they wrote that, in “Summertime… The livin’ is easy”, because in June, in particular, everything seems suddenly much less difficult to do.
I’ll admit that it’s not great for teenagers taking exams, like my son, nor for knackered teachers still seven weeks away from their great Finishing Line.
But June is when I start to get excited about the summer ahead, and that anticipation makes my June better than my July – in the same way that Saturday is about looking forward to a weekend and Sunday looking back.
June, moreover, doesn’t have the slightly melancholic, fast-shortening days that mar August. At this stage, we’re still building up to the Longest Day and there’s bright light in abundance to keep up our spirits.
Faces that (like mine) seem pasty and sadly undistinguished throughout winter look more inviting after just a bit of summer sun. Eyes and teeth look brighter. Bodies just feel better in the sunshine.
In fact, the livin’ is so easy in June that we start to make it just a bit challenging for ourselves.
What else is camping, apart from deliberately making life more difficult? But that’s what my wife, her sisters and about 175,000 others are choosing to put up with for several days watching bands at Pilton this month.
As for me, I fancy a bit of athletic difficulty. In particular, I am hankering after long, golden days on a bike, somewhere like central Europe, with its big blue skies, hot breezes and dusty back roads. Then afterwards, perhaps a castle or two and a good beer.
Because, if June is a time for getting excited about the summer, it’s also about getting away, getting Out There, thinking about what you can do.
It’s about making memories – of new performances, new countries, roads and castles – that will sustain you until the following summer, when you can feel the grass underfoot all over again.
Forget Christmas. Right now is The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.