Saturday, August 24, 2013

72 summers

"There are only 72 summers in one lifetime" - this sentence jumped out at me in a piece by Hilary Burden about her decision to move to rural Tasmania after years working in London (her book is called A Story of Seven Summers: Life in the Nuns' House). 72 - more perhaps or less, but even 100 seems a pretty small and precious number.

Previous summers in my life passed by almost unnoticed in a daze of personal problems, rain and unusual cold and staying indoors too much as a result, but this year we got a proper summer, both in Ireland and Germany.

A couple of years ago in the Avoca shop in Dublin I was leafing through a whimsical book about summer pursuits. It conjured up a picture book atmosphere of picnics and garden parties and walks in the countryside, summery foods and drinks, sun-drenched beach life - I remember a pang of regret at not having done the majority of the things it described in a long time, magnified into a panic of  "I am not living my life". This year I made a point of really noticing and drinking in summer's flora and light and general summerness. I was able to wear all my summer dresses, attended a wedding in a beautiful setting in Shropshire, had impromptu barbecues in the garden, swam in the sea for much longer at a time than the rest of the year allows and jumped through the water spray of the lawn sprinkler at my mom's with my younger sister, drank rosé (my sister wrote a beautiful post about the colours of her summer) and water with fresh mint and ate homegrown vegetables.

Now it feels like autumn is coming and summer was too short, but at the same time I am glad to be living somewhere with four distinct seasons.

- I loved this interview with one of my favourite writers, Deirdre Madden. Just when I am pondering here how time goes by so relentlessly fast, it is reassuring to learn she thinks "one gets more cheerful as one gets older" (she attributes the melancholy of her earlier novels in part to the fact that "one tends to be quite gloomy when you're young".)


  1. I love living somewhere with four distinct seasons...and my favorite one is coming up...autumn :)

  2. I love autumn, too! Can never decide which season is my favourite x

  3. Hi Marina

    I read that piece in the Guardian too and have become a little obsessed by the notion of 72 summers.

    For me the idea is such a rich, deep and emotive feeling that I'm sure it would resonate with everyone.

    I'm thinking of starting a project to get friends involved to create a website around the idea. It would be timeline based and allow people to set up their own profiles to chart their 72 summers!

    Is it a crazy idea to assume that anyone would be able to chart them all, or is it a project that would help any of us appreciate, experience and get a little more nostalgic about those magic moments?

    The idea is of course larger than 'summer'. I'm sure we've all had breaks outside of summer that have given us that special connection with friends, family and the world around us that allowed us to recharge our batteries and connect with the world in a very Gaia-type way. It's these moments that I would love to document in my life.

    Are you in?!

    Thanks for blogging :)