Ode to Summertime in England
There is something ethereal about summertime in England. A sun-drenched African cat watches with fascination as a whole country peels off its hibernation skin with triumph and runs outside to bask in the mild glow of one of their most treasured commodities: the Sun. Never before do Ella Fitzgerald’s words echo as strongly as when you’re outside passing dog-walkers in abundance, cyclists, joggers and people lounging in the fields and parks or sitting on their porch having a pint.
Summertime seeps into all crevices of life: you feel the need to buy sun hats, flip flops and bikinis; shops entice you with quaint picnic sets, barbecues and garden tables. Even the adverts on TV and radio change to reflect this miraculous occurence of summer. And somewhere during the never-ending day, those light hours chasing away your need for sleep, you hear Fitzgerald’s faint words:
Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high …
Cotton might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of England but daffodils surely are. The beauty of summertime is that it starts with spring and spring is announced most spiritedly by Wordsworth’s sea of daffodils. However, ex-colonial cats have no real concept of daffodils, the English countryside — or other arbitrary scenery characteristics such as the moors — so often read about in their English prescribed texts, until they’ve been to England and seen it with their own eyes.
There is a similar atmosphere just before December in South Africa: a type of carefree bliss as various aspects of our lives draw to a close, a sense of finality and anticipation. The youth pours a year’s knowledge into several sessions of pressured writing with the hope of moving forward in their life journey (indeed, with many cul-de-sacs and exitless roundabouts and a perhaps car crash at the end of it all). The rest of us eagerly awaits our escape from the drudgery of everyday life for a week or two. Yet, South Africa’s summertime can never have the same euphoric intensity as England’s.
A picnic in Preston Park, a cold beer in the pub’s courtyard after work, a red dress and bare feet, a glass of crisp white wine on a Saturday afternoon and Yorkshire strawberries and cream — yes, Ella, it’s summertime and livin’ is easy.
Cat took her evening stroll. Nine o’clock and the sun was starting to make its slow descent leaving a trail of purple hula hoops in the sky. And there on the riverbank, on the long stretch of green grass, sat Wordsworth and Coleridge, leaning on their elbows, their legs outstretched and the top buttons of their waistcoats undone. Fags were dangling from their mouths as they gazed out lazily over the still water, strips of sunlight reflecting off its surface … somewhere close by a field of daffodils. A slight breeze and Ella Fitzgerald’s husky voice on repeat.