Soul of Summer

Back to the start.

I’ll start this by stating the obvious: I am a child of the sun.

Dark, cold and foreboding Winters do nothing for my mental or physical well being other than to strengthen my resolve to be somewhere hot. Somewhere with the sunlight shining down on my face.

My ancestors come from sunny, warm and fertile lands. With skin of brown and hair of gold, my love for summer and for the sun on my shoulders is innate. It’s naive. Intrinsic. Thousands of years of genetic intermingling has forged strong path which leads to who I am today. In more ways than just the basest physical needs and desires I crave, sunlight is a love of mine.

I am a sensory, emotional human being who feels most at peace when outdoors – grass or sand between my toes. Moving, always moving. Sweat beading on my forehead. I covet that slight singing feeling from the sun. That physical sensation that sits somewhere between the pain of a burn and the blandness of overcast skies.

I love not having to look for shelter in the midday heat.

I am the California Girl.

Southern California. San Diego. Go on, close your eyes and explore the images your mind conjures up immediately. I bet you see tall, tanned people. There are surfboards and cocktails in beach-side bars. Sail boats move slowly inside the harbour and seem to disappear in the shadows of the Navy aircraft carriers that loom (like sleeping monsters) near the local base. The spicy aromas wafting from a local Mexican Cantina assault your senses. You smile instinctively. I bet you’re smiling right now.

You can almost taste the salt in the ocean air.

And yes, the sky is always blue.

This isn’t just a dream folks, it was my life growing up. When I look back now, the almost-year-round summer that we enjoyed growing up meant we were outdoors kids. Sun-kissed sprogs. We were water babies. We were physical and spiritual all at once. Nature was as much a part of us as was family, school and growing.

I can’t remember a time when my skin wasn’t tanned. Honestly, I can’t. From the time we were born, my brother and I were outdoors. We grew tall and strong. Smiling. Laughing. Swimming. BBQing. And everything, even the music we listened to, had a flavour of summer. After high school I transitioned to adulthood by going to college at UCSB – another perennial summer city.

So, as you can see, sunshine is not only hardwired in my DNA, it’s also something I’ve actively courted in life.

Then came New Zealand – and the discovery of seasons.

4 Seasons in One Day.

I’d never seen snow until I met my Kiwi husband (he took me skiing at Lake Tahoe for one of our first dates). I didn’t own a pair of nice boots. My wardrobe consisted of cut offs, flip-flops, sundresses and bikinis. Moving to Auckland was an eye opener indeed for this summer girl.

In the first 48 hours I experienced seasons for the first time. And yes, seasons. Plural. We got off the plane from LAX to AKL at 5am and it was rainy and cool – almost humid. We spent the day in town where it was still and calm one minute, and windy the next.

Clouds that would generally sit on the horizon for days on end in California seemed to move at break-neck speed here. I imagined us racing them as we drove from High Street to the Ferry Terminal on Quay St. We boarded a ferry to Waiheke Island (to attend a friend’s wedding at Mudbrick there) and the skies cleared. The sun was scorching hot. Beyond hot. I’d never been burned by it before. It only took minutes here.

The thing I remember most about the wedding on Waiheke wasn’t the bride’s dress. It wasn’t the exquisite meal. It wasn’t my husband’s MC speech (and, just for the record, I wasn’t copious amounts of wine that helped my memory of these details to fade).

It was Mother Nature that I remember most. I am still in awe of what I saw that day. Standing out on a grassy hill watching rain fall from the sky and heavy clouds move from the city, across the ocean and then to us. Amazing.

But…it all seemed wrong. Rain? Wind? All in one place in one day during Summer? Weird.

Cool!

Swimmin’ in sunshine.

Now that I’ve lived in New Zealand for just under eight years I’ve come to realize that the first day of December heralds a change in my mindset. The summers here are green and lush instead of dry, brown and arid. The beaches are pristine and teeming with open spaces instead of being fulled with throngs of people jostling for position. The sounds of “Greensleeves” echo down our suburban street as Mr Whippy drives by selling his ambrosial soft serve ice cream.Kids laugh and squeal as they run through the sprinklers.

Running in the sun for joy happens more and more often.

And, the birds sing. Man, do they ever sing!

Always a positive person, when Summer hits I’m positively overflowing with cheer. The Summer this year is set to be a long and hot one. I’ve sussed my iTunes playlists, hubby has the backyard looking superb and the beach beckons. Our beer fridge is stocked with ales, ciders, white wines, bubbles and sweet iced tea. We will surely be brown, hydrated and golden this year.

If you see me smiling for no reason at all – then blame the sunshine.

Blame the summertime for my happiness.

I am a child of the sun.

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