Continuing this month’s theme on Enchanted Summer, contributor Anthony Windram weighs in with his opinion.
Elizabeth von Arnim, who wrote The Enchanted April, was right in selecting April as the month of enchantment. Spring charms me in a way that summer doesn’t. The budding boughs are full of fresh scents, to borrow from Christina Rossetti, and the land restores itself. Nature, in a universe governed by entropy, pulls off a majestic conjuring trick.
By contrast, I find summer a little unenchanting. Let’s face it, it’s not a good time for the English. We can’t really be trusted with summer. We should be banned from it, it’d be for the best. Pack us all up and send us to the Arctic for three months. That way we might avoid the collective fever that descends upon us where we dehydrate our bodies with copious quantities of lager and show off our sun blistered skin and bad tattoos.
So, as you probably have gathered, I’m not much of a summer fan and that hasn’t changed having now lived in places that have actual, proper summers as opposed to England’s illusion of a summer. I can usually be found in the summer months (when not enjoying a self-imposed seasonal exile in the Arctic) wandering from one airconditioned building to another. If I do have to venture out into the heat, I only do so after liberally applying sunblock (factor 100).
But this post is about enchantment with the summer, and it’s only when the sun has set and the temperature has lowered that such moments have occurred. I share Simon Wheeler’s thoughts on the sounds of crickets. To me, it’s a foreign sound. A memory of childhood holidays abroad. Hearing that rhythmic sound each evening reminds me that I am in a foreign country, and as I listen the everyday mundanity of my setting dissolves away.
I am not, despite what this post might suggest, an amateur entomologist. If anything, I have an immediate revulsion with most creepy crawlies, but my second summer enchantment also involves them and like the music of the crickets it was a fleeting moment that stripped me of cynicism and returned me to childhood. It was my first summer in the US, I was in my in-laws’ garden. I was listening to the crickets and feeling very happy with myself when an insect flew past me, its lower abdomen pulsating a yellow, illuminiscent light. I knew the answer, but I couldn’t be certain as I had never seen one before. “Is that a firefly?” I asked.
And where there had been one, there was another, and then another. Looking around, thrilled in the same way I would have been as a child, it seemed that there was a swarm of fireflies captivating me utterly — a glowing moment of enchantment in the summer evening.
DISPLACED Q: What’s your most enchanting memory of a summer spent in your adopted homeland(s)?
STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s discussion of The Displaced Nation’s themed posts.
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