(published in Savvy Magazine, October 2013)
In Northland, summer is never that far away. There are days in winter when shorts can be worn and windows opened. People still brave the winter sea, kids dressed only in togs. Orange and grapefruit trees grow bright with their plump dots of fruit.
But that first morning comes when you open the door and the birds are singing, and it’s warmer outside than in, and everything smells different. And even though you haven’t had to wait that long, even though you haven’t had to scrape ice off your windscreen and battle blizzards, you get that warm thrill of summer promise. Yes!
My youngest son is shoeless already. He started a few weeks ago, coming out of school with shoes crammed into his schoolbag. ‘It’s too cold’ said his English mother. ‘No, it’s not,’ he said, looking at me as if I had a screw loose. He’s out in the garden now, walking over gravel and prickly plants without the slightest of flinches. I feel my face contort just watching him.
With summer on the horizon, I’m aware it’s time to pack those extra bags into the car. Towels, togs, a change of clothes, buckets. We learnt, in our first summer here, that a day out invariably ends up near a body of water, even if you hadn’t planned it. In Northland, we’re always less than 43km away from the sea. And if it’s not the sea, it’s a waterhole, or someone’s backyard pool at a barbecue. As soon as they see the wet stuff, my boys are drawn to it like ducks. If we’re not fully prepared for this Northland inevitability, they’ll go in anyway, and ride home in the back of the car dripping wet and wrapped up in a picnic blanket.
For me, summer lives in these wonderful things… Small, bare feet, and happy, wet children. Bring it on!