June 22, 2010

Perceptions Of Summer.

Crossing the solstice, we have entered the season of plenty. The Scandinavian summers however are short and the weather very unstable. Even yesterday, which was forecast to be sunny and warm by meteorologists, turned out to be more or less a cloudy and dull affair.

I love summers endlessly though and I have always done so. Being a true summer child, I was born in July and I worship this season passionately. So full of colour and light, it is additionally abundant with scents and tastes as well.

We all know the wonderful property of our senses and the way they are connected to our recollection. How a sound, a fragrance or that particular tingling of our palate can bring back moments in time, so easily and with such an elegance.
I have collected here ten such significant catalysts of wide range of perceptions, which speak summer to me like nothing else can.

The Sound Of Cicadas.
I grew up in family of sun worshipers and almost as far back as I can remember, we used to travel south to the Mediterranean for summer vacations. The sounds of Cicadas equals summer to me, as these little critters are not native to Central nor Northern Europe. Thus their exotic song brings the feeling of summer to my senses in its purest form possible.

Fireflies were the sign of summer while I lived in North Carolina. I will never forget those humid, hot nights, full of sounds of crickets and insects and full of these small specks of light, adding an enchanting feeling to the hot summers of the southeast.

Coconut Fragrance And Taste.
As a fragrance in sunscreens, shower gels and shampoos and as a taste in exotic drinks, nothing speaks of tropics more loudly than the coconut.

The Feel Of A Warm Sand.
The feel of hot sand of the beach between my toes and between my fingers, sticking to my blanket and to my skin, oiled in tanning lotion, while I listen to the gentle surf, watching the endless blue of the sea... Only in summer.

The Song Of Swallows.
The flight and the song of swallows as the day is closing to its end, brings back the summers of my childhood like nothing else can. Almost in instant I am transported back to the Czech country side, where I spent every single summer until I was thirteen.

Scent Of Melted Asphalt.
That scent takes me back to Czech country side too, decades in time, in a split second. I recall walking barefoot on a small country road, after spending an hour or two swimming in the local river during lazy summer days. The hot asphalt would almost give in under my feet, as I was leaving footprints behind, having fun trying to burst the small bubbles, which would form on the melting surface, while its particular scent hung in the hot air.

Scent (and Taste) Of Barbecue.
Moving forward in time, barbecue reminds me of the Scandinavian summers and always will. As soon as the first sun rays warm the cold North, the scent of grilling is everywhere. The Scandinavians worship the elusive sun and move their cooking outside during the white nights.

White Nights.
I have described what they mean to me in such a detail before, thus any more words feel obsolete. I can only add that the midnight sun was the only summer sign I dearly missed while I lived in North Carolina.

Taste Of Strawberries Warmed By The Sun.
My first real summer job as a teenager involved picking of strawberries. There is nothing that literally screams summer more loudly to me, then the sweet taste of the red berry, picked during a hot, sunny day. The Scandinavian strawberries are renowned for their superb quality and are exported all over Europe. A celebration of the Midsummer is never complete without a strawberry cake, made with freshly picked berries.

Scent Of Fresh Cut Grass.
The ultimate sign of summer, that stretches back in time and encompasses both my childhood and adulthood. Endlessly soothing, like a blanket of comfort, when the fragrance of cut grass spreads through the air, it instigates security and happiness. It brings back the meadows of my childhood as well as the city parks and the country side of my teenage years. And even today, this scent defines summer just outside the windows of my white house on a hill like nothing else can. A universal sign of summer in every corner of the world that harbours the four seasons; as soon as the grass grows again, summer has begun.


Elisabeth said...

Thanks for this glorious post, Zuzana. What a reminder of summer.

I have never seen fireflies or swallows but I know cicadas well and there's nothing like molten asphalt under a hot Australian sun.

Barbecues we enjoy all year round though they taste different in summer for some strange reason and the coconut smells of sun lotion and body moisturizers mixed in with sticky sand are wonderfully familiar too.

Anonymous said...

I have an award for you over at mine-

S. Susan Deborah said...

A complete post with smells, touch, taste,sounds et al. Lovely, dear Zuzana.

Let me tell you something. Come to my part of the world and you will yearn for the winter. It is eternally summer here and that's the reason, I always want to get away :(

Joy always,

Sandy said...

Ah...summer..I remember waking up in the early mornings at my maternal grandmothers home in Michigan with the rays of sunlight coming through the upstairs windows and hearing the cries of bluejays. I remember when my parents let us play outside after dark...the fun times we had running around and chasing and catching lightening bugs (i.e., fireflies) with my brothers. I remember the thrill of riding my bike like it was a horse and the wonderful sense of freedom. I remember hot, humid summer nights sleeping with a fan at the foot of my bed and no blankets just the bedsheets. I remember long summer days and shorts and white tennis shoes. And I remember when my parents were young and all of us watching the TV shows of the 50s together on that little black and white screen ...all the Westerns and Perry Mason, Honeymooners. And most of all I remember being happy and content in those summer days of long ago.

Elizabeth said...

It is hard to believe and almost scary to say it out loud but today I have the feeling the the summer has arrived!!!!

Brian Miller said...

oh you pick some great ones...the fireflies and strawberries esp...even the smell of the asphalt...funny i was just thinking that yesterday as i was writing...thanks for engendering an appreciation of the various layers of summer...have a great day!

United Studies said...

You really have captured what summer is all about! The fireflies are very prominent right now....there are hundreds of them every night.

Kath said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who likes the smell of hot tarmac! It always makes me think of long hot summer days :)

Claus said...

We coincide in so many! Coconut smell, "noisy" humid nights... how I miss summer!! I'm enjoying the freshness and feeling of renewal rain brings, but there is certainly nothing like the warm and sunny days of summer.
I hope the right weather comes your way soon!, so you can have the most out of it.
have the best of days!

Unknown said...

So many beautifully captured moments here Zuzana. When I was a kid, I loved capturing lightning bugs in a ball jar and kept them in my bedroom overnight to watch them light up.

Twice, I had an Eagle soar over me on an out of town trip. This is said to have special meaning by my Native American friends.

Avo said...

Echoes of summer magic.
A very evocative selection of summer things!
Nicely done. :j

Gal Friday said...

Beautiful list, and one I can relate to!
Here's another summer scent--the smell of much needed rain on the hot earth and asphalt!

steviewren said...

You've named the best things about summer on your list. As I type I can hear the crickets outside singing their water song (a sound they make during the day when it is hot and they want something to drink). I'm off to mow some grass....the thing I dislike most about summer.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Fresh cut grass, fireflies and bbq equal summer in Ohio with my family. I'll have to think about the other 7. Your list was wonderful and a fun say to think of this wonderful time of the year.

Thanks for sharing,

Anonymous said...

Ah - summer! You've described it so well. I live just north of Stockholm and the white nights are lovely - sun nearly 24 hours a day!

Love the photos you took in your previous post too. Where do you live in Scandinavia?

sprinkles said...

I had never really thought much before about what my perceptions of summer are but if I had to put a list together, I think this about sums it up!

I remember as a child, my family took a week or two to visit my father's family. I didn't remember any of them (and sadly, haven't been back since!)but one of my fondest memories of being there is of watching the fireflies at night.

Sukanya said...

Awww.. That was a lovely write up Zuzana. So beautifully explains Summer :)

Have a lovely Summer Zuzana.


Anonymous said...

Ahhh yes, summer. Zuzana, I agree with you on the cicadas and warm sand. Those things are synonymous with summer for me too..

Unfortunately, we get a ridiculously high amount of humidity in our summers too. Clothes stick to you like a second skin. The very act of breathing is like breathing in mist. It's... not pleasant.

That's why dawn or dusk are my favourite times of the summer day. Dawn because it's nice and cool at that time, and dusk because the cicadas are out then. There's something soothing about the drone of the cicadas...

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Donna said...

Ahhh, yes, lovely summer.


SandyCarlson said...

Thanks for this beautiful prose poem about the summer of the senses. Exactly. Even that smell of asphalt...!

Maria said...

Enjoyed a lovely summer break on the Adriatic once. Your lovely writing brought it back....xxxx

Reading Tea Leaves said...

Beautiful post Zuzana - a celebration of all that is good about summer. Your prose conjures up the smells, tastes and sounds so perfectly.

I'm wishing you a sunshiney day through the ether!


Unknown said...

This is such a beautiful post. I have always enjoyed Summer. The word "Fireflies" brings so many memories. I always tried catching the beautiful sparks of light.
Have a good day...:)

Paul C said...

You have captured the fullness of summer with its sensory delights. 'Taste of strawberries warmed by the sun...'they taste so much better when harvested from an organic garden.

Unknown said...

While in California this past weekend to visit a friend, an Eagle soared over me twice and this post reminded me of that.

laughingwolf said...

super summer scents/scenes... and tastes, too :)

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Even your lists are exquisitely presented...a work of artistry...a window to your beautiful soul! This post buoys me, dear Zuzana! I'm ready to skip in the sand, and savor summer's strawberries! Thank you! Love you much! Janine XO

tony said...

All These Things I Love Too!You were born in July ?Me Too! Are you a Leo?

Zuzana said...

Elisabeth, Mel, Susan, sandy, Elizabeth, Brian, Jacki, Kath, Claudia, Michael, Alesa, Tina, Stevie, Joanna, ladyfi, sprinkles, Sukanya, Tony, Donna, Sandy, Maria, Jeanne, Mr. Stupid, Paul, laughingwolf, Janine and tony, I am glad you all could recognize some of the scents, sounds and tastes that mean summer to me. Thank you so much for sharing some of your own perceptions with me here, I thoroughly enjoyed reading all your comments.

Your visits and kind words are always very much appreciated, thank you for stopping by.


Regina said...

Sounds like the tropics where I live. But its monsoon season now.
Enjoy the summertime Zuzana.

Velvet Over Steel said...

I'm a Summer child too and just 'live' for this season every year!
Great post and wonderful blog! I found you through Spinkles blog! I'm you're newest follower & will be back soon. ~ Coreen

Cat in the road said...

The season you adore has arrived.
Enjoy every second of it and carry the warmth of summer with you through out the year.

Zuzana said...

Regina, Coreen (welcome) and Scribe, thank you so much for your lovely words and sharing your sentiment of summer perception with me, xoxo

Hilary said...

Oh you nailed the summer senses for sure. I just love this season.

Zuzana said...

Thank you Hilary, my dear friend, hope you are enjoying your summer as well.;)