I grew up in a place where the autumn was crisp, the winter was cold, the spring was fresh, and the summer was hot, hot, hot. Summer lasted a solid three months, from June through August, and it was a glorious time of tank tops, pools, flip-flops, the green smell of fresh-mown lawns, air-conditioned cinemas, beaches, barbecues, and sweat.
Summer was undeniable, unabashed, and damn was it muggy. An “Indian summer” would often follow, the warm weather revived late in the fall.
Then I moved to northern Europe in 2005. I haven’t had a proper summer since.
I feel as though my life has been robbed of an entire season. My seven summers spent in northern Europe (England, Scotland, and the Netherlands) have given me a similar sensation to seven consecutive nights of bad sleep. Yes, you slept a bit. But no, you’re not rested. And you won’t feel better until you get a proper kip. So you hope for a better sleep the next night… but yet again you sleep badly. During the day, you try to catch a snooze here or there to give you brief respite. But you’ll never feel satisfied until you get that good, solid night of sleep.
So it is with the summer here. Sure, there are a few good days, and you’ll catch some sun and warmth here and there. But it never lasts and you don’t ever feel as though you’ve had a full serving of summer. When I arrived in early July, we had a few spectacular weeks of clear, bright, balmy weather and we spent nearly every evening going for walks, drinking beers and coffees on terraces, and having picnics in the park.
Then it all went terribly wrong in late July. It’s been grey skies, daily rain, jumpers, jackets and umbrellas since. It seems to be clearing up a bit now, but even so, it’s certainly not what I would call summer. Everyone seems to be complaining about it, including the Dutch, so I think this summer might be particularly bad, even by Dutch standards. Sadly (or happily) I won’t be here next summer to know if the Dutch summer gets any better.