Summer is the pinnacle of the life of the seasons. I love the warmth that (should) be everywhere. In southern England the sun rises something like 4am and by 5am it is usually already warm. If you are ever awake at this time, I can recommend going for a walk and listening to the silence.
Similarly at night, gone 10pm it is usually still quite light and the warmth is everywhere. It is a happy season, birds sing all day and night. Sit in the garden in the evenings and you can hear the fluttering of bats as they feast on the veritable banquest of midges and other insects. In England, we have become used to having mixed weather. Typically, summer rain is warm and disperses a very pleasant smell.
Have you noticed the atmosphere of summer? Everything glows. Everything is full of life. Optimism is everywhere. So how do we write what summer feels like?
For me, there is a kind of glow to everything on a summer day; everything feels so optimistic and vibrant. The sun is proud. On hot days you seek shade. Wet days are usually muggy because it is so humid (I personally do not like humid weather. Give me a dry heat any time). Everything feels alive, awake, confident. It is also typically tourist season. Over here people head for the beach. It is also the time of year that we head abroad or foreign tourists come to visit. Use words to describe this atmosphere: warm, pleasant, alive, lively, lazy, sizzling, roasting, relaxing, muggy.
There are many odours associated with summer. By now the blossom should have been shed from the trees so those smells should have gone by now. People are cutting the grass, gardening, flowers are in full bloom. On heathland you can smell heather and other wild flowers. At the beaches there is always a smell of brine. The smells that really define the season are: fresh-cut grass, barbecues and beer, brine.
The most noticeable is the greenery: there’s lots of it. It must be remarked that England is so green because we get so much rain so cherish it people! The sun glows a warm yet unobtrusive yellow, confident. The sky is deep blue and the clouds are wispy and (typically) rare, the sky lazily. Like spring, insects are everywhere, particularly honeybees and bumble bees. And don’t forget the maybugs and butterflies.
In hot weather, clothing is sparse. Men wear vests, if they wear a top at all. Everybody is showing off their bronzed bodies in shorts and thin tee-shirts and other loose fitting clothes.
Undoubtedly the most obvious sound of the season is the wildlife: birds and insects. The all-too familiar high-pitched rasp of the dreaded wasp, the never-ending sound of lawnmowers, of children playing outside, of football matches at the local rec (with the tradition of jumpers for goalposts). Depending on where you live you might hear the rasp of midges or mosquitoes. Returning to the beach, the roaring of the season over sand. My favourite sound is the sea drawing back over a pebble beach, it makes a distinct rattling.
By that I mean think about how your (or your character’s) diet might be different in the summer than any other time of year. I tend to drink more white wine (red wine I prefer in autumn and winter), golden beers (stuff with less body and lighter flavour), tea (more refreshing than coffee) and water. I tend to want more salads and fish, cold meat. Then the obligatory barbecues we seem to want every time it stops raining for an evening or two. Though in writing narrative, what your characters are eating or drinking might be less important in the portrayal of the season, if you are writing a period piece you will need a greater attention to seasonal availability of food types.
How does the ground feel? It will be dry and grasses will be long; feel your bare legs swish against tall wild grass. A hot sun on the face might be accompanied by the prickling of sunburn. The clothes you wear will also feel different. You likely to wear vest tops, shorts and flip flops (again depending on where you live) and beachware in your garden or at the seaside. All of these will feel different and made of different materials from what you wear the rest of the year. Again, this may be less important depending on what type of fiction you are writing.
So over to you, what signifies summer to you? How do you identify the arrival of this season?
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