White faces because Factor 50 never quite rubs in. Short-sleeves on the school run. Homework in the garden. Lunch in the garden. Dinner in the garden. A tidy kitchen because we’ve almost entirely relocated to the garden. Ice-cream every day – and twice on Sunday. There’s nothing quite like the drop-everything wonder of an Irish summer.
The summer clothes have been “down” since early May, but it’s only now they’ve come into their own – straw sun-hats and spotty shorts and scrappy sandals, and floaty, floral dresses in every colour of the rainbow. The usual reluctance to change out of school uniforms is suspended temporarily. Summer clothes are the fresh air our damp bones have been craving since November.
And we need to do everything now. We need to eat outdoors, and soak up all the sun, and make hurried picnic sandwiches, and lick melty ice-creams and drink all the cold drinks, because although we’re picturing the entire summer rolling out bathed in golden sunshine, we know that’s not really going to happen. So we’re not wasting a minute of it.
“Housework? That’d be a sin. It’s actually illegal when it’s sunny.” I heard it from three different people so it must be true. We down tools and we don’t clean and actually, the house isn’t any worse than usual so there must be something in that – or perhaps it’s because we’re mostly outdoors.
The rest of the year, there are never enough hours for everything, but when the sun is out, somehow there’s time for sitting in the garden. And hanging out washing – glorious, joyous washing-line washing. Words I never thought I’d say.
I can work in the garden too, and can almost convince myself that I’m just as productive, despite squinting at the screen through sunglasses, and going indoors to correct the typos before I press send. But it’s summer, and it’s kindovaheatwave – this is not a drill.
Friday night. A surprise trip to the pier for tea – fish and chips on a picnic blanket, looking out at the sea. White railing gleaming in evening sunlight, blue sky reflected in bluer sea. Sailboats bobbing just like books say they bob. Breathing in salty smells of chips and seaside. Imagining this is how it will be forever.
And perhaps that’s the true beauty of an Irish summer. What’s rare is wonderful. We obsess over weather, we look at forecasters, phones and skies. We anticipate and speculate and sometimes we even believe the person who says it’s “meant to be a good summer” because that’s better than believing it’s not. And we make the most of it – we race to beaches or beer gardens or just gardens, and we don’t stop enjoying it till it’s gone. Maybe this is better than having a bankable, predictable summer – one we’d take for granted, one that wouldn’t cause a national conversation, and countrywide bonding over cold drinks.
Though given the choice, I think I’d take my chances.