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Happy Summer?
by Asa Butcher
2008-06-21 08:52:12
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How much longer do I have to suffer the frustrations of summer? Personally I prefer winter because you know what you are going to get and therefore will not be disappointed when presented with yet another cloudy day. Summer has a reputation to uphold and hopes to fulfil but time and time again we are left hiding beneath umbrellas or hearing about how wonderful summers were when our parents were young.

Today I am closer to becoming a father than I am to my own childhood, which sent me running down the road of nostalgia to find some comfort and reassurance. My own memories of past summers recall fun and enjoyment, days when sticks of ice pretended to be ice-lollies and skin cancer was an unknown danger; the only worry was the appearance of Back to School signs in shop windows

2008 and kids are still having a great time enjoying their school holidays, but I wouldn’t blame them if they became infuriated by the end of July. Firstly the TV broadcasters put all your favourite shows on a break, which doesn’t really matter because your dad will exclaim, “What are you doing inside on a day like this?” Within half an hour of leaving the house your mum will appear and shout, “Don’t stay out in the sun for too long!”

There is an ever-increasing need to protect ourselves from harmful UV rays so we rub cream all over our bodies and for some people that is a lot of rubbing. Our family used to have a foolproof method of avoiding sunburn, we would organise a barbeque then it would rain – it never seemed to fail. For many sun worshippers the golden tan is the goal, my dad can get a tan from just standing next to the toaster, although he was once burnt on a nudist beach and couldn’t sit down for a couple of days.

Whether the sun is burning or tanning us it is the heart of summer. A heart that beats nearly 92 million miles away and whose rays take about 492 seconds to reach Earth, then after that incredible journey it disappears behind the only cloud in the sky. Now you might think I am being negative but if you want further proof of my dislike for summer journeys then look to the roads. You follow a caravan for kilometres, finally overtake and then get stuck in a traffic jam just a few kilometres later.

Summer cottages seem to be the most popular destination in Finland and I have tried my hardest to like them but, well I expect you know what is coming by now. Maybe it is the ‘back to nature’ concept that rubs me the wrong way, especially when it comes to cleaning out the organic toilet. My tolerance level would be higher if my blood wasn’t considered a foreign delicacy and sucked out of me hourly by those insects. While shopping for some repellent I was shocked to discover that you can purchase OFF! Kids mosquito spray – does it really keep children away?

Rural Finland pleases me as much as pollen does to a hay fever sufferer but there’s one aspect that can tempt me out from under my mosquito net. Berry picking. As macho as collecting various berries from bushes and having them transformed into home-made juice sounds it is strangely pleasurable. Once when strolling through a forest my wife said, “There’s some bears for you." Just as I was about to sacrifice her and run for my life, she corrected herself, “Sorry, I meant berries.”

Now I realise that this article has been a bit pessimistic concerning our current season and that there are many positive features, for example summer songs playing on the radio, the smell of freshly mown grass, an impressive range of ice creams, ice-cold beer and the arrival of Christmas decorations in the shops. If summer in Finland becomes far too stressful and you can’t hold your stomach in any longer then take a rug downstairs and beat the hell out of it. Happy sunbathing!

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Thanos2008-06-21 09:08:21
I'm afraid environmental changes will frustrate you in the winter as well. I just remind you how much ...snow we saw in Helsinki last year!!!

Emanuel Paparella2008-06-21 10:13:04
To paraphrase Keats: if summer is here, can winter be far behind? But actually even Keats was wrong. There are places in the world (such as southern Florida) where there is only one season. That may provoke envy or pity, depending on one's taste and point of view. An Eskimo would not much love Florida, nor a Floridian much love Alaska. One of my daughters who lived there a couple of years ended up coming back to Florida. So it goes!

Alexandra Pereira2008-06-21 13:50:33
My happiest summer memories are the ones of my childhood and also the warm stary summer nights in the countryside in Portugal.
Childhood summer was an event which meant:
1) Me and my twin brother (or especially me) would do our best to have all the holidays' homeworks done in the first couple of days, so I could enjoy the rest of the holidays in peace
2) Going to the southern beach named Eyes of Water together with family friends and even babysitter for two months
3) Meeting a whole range of mythical childhood characters, like the old neighbour who had his place decorated with fishing nets, wooden boat miniatures and message bottles, and would take us early in the morning to dig the sand with our feet in perfect circles along the beach, just where the waves died, to catch two-shell mollusks for lunch and pretty pink or orange winged shells
4) Meeting the sweetest old couple who rented the house for the family and had a big terrace with a pergola where they grew climbing vines, or the uncle and aunt trying their photo cameras on the beach, their friend sailing from the northern coast and showing up with his boat in the same beach to surprise us, the owner of the Blue Seagull bar and cafe, where adults used to meet every sunset or night, going to find pretty stones along the slippery rocks covered with seaweed or forming warm mini-swimming-pools.
The dark nights fill with a million shining stars are another memory, listening to the crickets singing on the grass, staying outside the whole night with a blanket just to see the falling stars or talking, with the smell of the grass, or closing a firefly for moments on our hands.

Dad2008-06-21 20:53:46
Did I ever tell you how wonderful our summers were when we were young. 1975 & 1976 we had a drought, hosepipe bans, the tarmac melted, forest fires, traffic jams and The Wurzels at number one they were the days

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