Thanks to that iconic movie “Grease”, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, who’s song hit the number one spot in the UK for seven weeks back in 1978. Tweens, teens, middies and oldies alike, have hummed along to this familiar tune, whilst reliving, or dreaming their own “summer-lovin’” dreams, for decades.
Living in the northern hemisphere has some distinct advantages, mostly enjoyed during the sensational summer months when the days truly seem endless as the sky only grows dark well after 10pm! The morning sky begins to lighten soon after 5am, making it an exceptionally long, light-soaked day. The excess light hours are balanced rather cruelly by the long, dark winter months, so we will take every minute of every hour of sunlight that we can soak in, whilst it is here!
One of the advantages of being self employed is the freedom to determine one’s own work days and hours. This global crisis has liberated most corporate employees, to a certain extent, to do likewise, since working from home no longer requires arduous commute times, meaning frantic morning dress up times, scrambled on-the-go breakfast times and too often, late home for supper times. More and more we’ve come to appreciate the joy of living in the moment and actually taking that moment when it presents itself.
One such moment materialised on a random Wednesday in the early summer month of June: the sun was shining in a cloudless sky, the wind was less than negligible and the time was right for a beach afternoon. A simple picnic was gathered, along with bottles of cold water and into our bicycle baskets they were dumped and off we set for the 12km ride to the beach.
(A side note to the bike ride: yes, The Netherlands is very flat, making for biking ease but, one’s butt needs to grow accustomed to sitting on the saddle for the distance to the beach and back again – after our nine month absence, our butts are no longer that accustomed!)
Beach days in NL are special in a unique way. The weather is the determining factor, obviously, if the sun shines and the wind is absent, then it’s a beach day! Since the law of averages would mean that these ideal days are most often week days, there’s no reason to miss out, just schedule your business meeting for the beach! Not only were there numerous business calls being made, deals being struck and contracts argued from beneath an umbrella whilst slathering on more sunscreen, there were also group meetings taking place on deck chairs, forming socially acceptable distanced circles of brainstormers, all taking on the challenges of the workspace from the comfort of the sand.
It’s this enjoyment of what the season brings that I find so refreshing as I believe that the full value of “carpe diem” is experienced. Perhaps it’s the longer, harsher winters that produces this desire to seize the day, smell the roses, dip the toes, or whatever metaphor is more appropriate, than in the southern hemisphere where winter temperatures often match those of our mid summer temps, only with greater variation between the low and high degrees.
The other aspect of the northern hemisphere culture that I find fascinating is the seeking of the sun. By that I mean that when the sun shines, the faces are all turned towards that fireball in the Heavens, just as the sunflowers do in the fields! The craving for natural vitamin D is top of the list. Sidewalk cafes have their tables and chairs lined up, much like a movie theatre, with all chairs facing the sun so as to offer their clients a chance to acquire a healthy summer glow to their upturned faces whilst sipping a coffee or a cocktail.
So too, the late afternoon beachgoers, no matter that the tanning factor is no longer relevant, they also line up, eyes closed, chins lifted in a westward direction to catch the last of the sun’s magical rays of warmth, light and delight.
Aaah! These summer days drift away far too quickly but, it seems that they are decidedly hotter now that the mid summer solstice has passed us and we are in for a few more months of Heavenly heat – A happy summer sunlight sigh!