Cool summer

It’s summer, and I’m going to state the obvious: it’s hot.

Summer means feeling the balmy wind on my legs, my face sticky with watermelon juice, and bright evenings filled with potential.  It has an expansiveness and sense of promise that only sunshine and heat can invite.  

Still, sometimes, I yearn for winter.

I long for the insularity of snow-muffled streets, for the anonymity of being bundled in a formless winter coat with a scarf pulled up to my nose and a toque pulled down to my eyelashes.  I long for the warmth and safety of snuggling at home on the sofa, with a blanket and thick novel to guard me against winter’s breath.  Winter has texture and depth, with its woolly sweaters and chunky potages, whereas summer seems too superficial, glossy and cheap, with its wispy sundresses and watery beer.  Girls with evenly browned skin conjure up images of rotisserie chicken; how carefully they must turn themselves as they bake in the sun…

People of northern climes seem to be especially good at complaining about the weather, and I suppose I am no exception.  Perhaps though it is just that my mood leans towards the wintry, and I feel like a grey blobby sweater in a sea of rosy pink cocktail dresses, the strait-laced and thin-lipped cat lady that peers through her lace curtains at partygoers being carried home on a cloud of giggles.  

And then, as humans are most complex and I cannot claim to be more than human, I find myself wanting to shake off the profundity of winter’s solitude and join the masses of sticky, sweaty skin, to laugh uncontrollably at something banal, and be swept up by the buoyancy of summer’s inebriation.  Feeling a sense of belonging is one of our deepest needs, and yet I know that there is nothing to really belong to, everything just is.  Besides, soon summer’s flower will wilt and we will return to the shadow of winter…

In my hunger I crave the comfort of roast chicken (was it from thinking about the impossibility of an even summer tan?!), but in a little stuffy apartment with no air conditioning, turning on the oven would be utterly macabre.  So I put aside my misgivings about battery-cage chickens and buy a cooked bird from the chain supermarket.  I salute the season with cucumber slices and bocconcini, clean and bland so as to avoid overexcitement in the heat.  Peeling the meat off the bone with my fingers, I remember that summer’s casual mood is the best time for eating with my hands, which is my favourite way to eat.