We don’t need many reasons to feel cheerful in summer. But how to express our love for this season? Here’s a potpourri of music, words and images to help us celebrate the goodness and fruitfulness that is summer.
SPEAKING OF SUMMER
“In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explode, and every sunset is different.“
~ John Steinbeck (1902-1968), novelist, winner of the Pulitzer and Nobel laureate in Literature.
“In summer, the song sings itself.”
~ William Carlos Williams (1883-1963), doctor and poet.
‘The Summer Day’, a Poem by Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver (1935-2019) was devoted nature lover and a Pulitzer Prize winning poet. She published several poetry collections and books of essays including, A Poetry Handbook and Upstream. This poem is not just about summer, but also an invitation to pay attention and live with joyful astonishments.
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
SONGS OF SUMMER
“Just fill your basket full of sandwiches and weenies Then lock the house up, now you’re set..”
Tempting words from a delightful song sung by the one and only Nat King Cole entitled, “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer.” Guarantee to bring back a flood of memories for those of a certain vintage.
‘Today’ by John Denver
Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine,
I’ll taste your strawberries, I’ll drink your sweet wine.
A million tomorrow shall all pass away, ‘ere I forget all the joy that is mine, today.
“Today” is a quiet little song that celebrates the moment, using images of nature which reminds us of the goodness of summer. Written and sung by the late folk-pop singer, John Denver.
PORTRAITS OF SUMMER
There are few images I like than an old-school home library featuring ancient classics and quirky books of all sorts. Nothing says summer reading like old-hand-me-down books with yellowing paper, musty smell, broken spines, dog-eared pages and grocery bills folded into bookmarks.
Though I also love the red hues of autumn foliage, this summertime view in soft green is a balm to tired eyes. It’s a path to the tea garden at Koto-in, in Kyoto, the old capital of Japan.
Under the Tuscan Sun
When I dream of a rustic summer, my mind immediately takes me to Tuscany. It’s partly the memories of reading Under the Tuscan Sun, the best-selling 1996 memoir by American Frances Mayes (made into a film in 2002), and partly, my unforgettable trip there in 2005. Tuscany. Is the land of vine-lined landscapes, home to excellent cuisine and world-renowned wines, and the centre of Renaissance art to boot. A must-do in Tuscany is to experience the hospitality of Tuscan folks in the countryside, and the best place to do so is to stay in an agriturismo, which translates to “farm-stay.” But it’s so much more than that! It’s a motel within a working farm owned by a local family, and a cosy place to feast on the fresh produce of Summer while you mingle with guests from all over the world.
Land of the Midnight Sun: Svalbard, Norway
How does summer look like at the edge of the world? An answer may be found in Longyearbyen, an Arctic town located in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard about 2,000 km north of Oslo, and the most northerly inhabited town on Earth. Everywhere in Longyearbyen, the extraordinary is the ordinary, from the endless expanse of tundra, ice-age craggy mountains littered with mine shafts, raw glaciers, and extreme weather and light changes. For six months (between October and February), the sun never rises, plunging the town into pitch darkness and bitter cold where temperatures often plummet to below -30 °C. Then in the first week of March, town folks gather at the old town hospital to witness an annual ritual: the “return of the sun”. As the first rays of sunlight hit the wooden steps, the town receives the chaplain’s blessings and declares the return of sunlight. Progressively, the days get longer and between late April and August, the sun never sets, ushering a summer that is like no other on Earth.
Sunflower Parade, Wisconsin, US
Who doesn’t dream of running through a field of sunflowers without a care in the world? The Pope Farm Conservancy is 105 acres that sits on top of three recessional moraines in the Town of Middleton, Wisconsin in the United States. During Sunflower Days in the summer, guests can come and experience stunning sunflower field in peak bloom.