This, our fourth and final summer in England, is the first season I would properly call summer.
When we moved here in January 2007, we heard tales of the summer of '06 being the hottest on record and the misery that accompanied that heat. But the summer of 2007 ended up being one of the (if not the) rainiest season on record, so we knew nothing of that heat.
I remember this, because it was also the summer that Rhianna's "Umbrella" was #1 on the charts for something like an unprecedented 11 weeks, and that happened to coincide with some of the rainiest weeks people could remember - floods and all. At that point, I was ready to boycott that song if it meant we'd see a slice of sunshine.
The summers of 2008 and 2009 weren't as soggy as '07, but we just couldn't seem to get proper summer temps for longer than a few days, or a week as most.
In fact, I can clearly remember there being one week of amazing weather every year sometime in April. Having lived in a comatose state of gray, damp, and cold, the weather would yawn, shake itself off, and reveal brilliant blue skies, unadulterated sunshine, and this bizarre sensation called heat.
And every year, it was as if my soul would mirror this physical change of seasons and reawaken with new awareness and appreciation for life. Every year, I'd go out and buy warm weather clothes. And every year, every year, the next week would return to cold, damp and gray, totally extinguishing any hope we had for a true change in weather.
Sure we'd get some more sunny spells, but they'd be short lived. And yeah, we'd seem some warm days, but again, they never stuck around long, and it was rarely warm enough to even justify wearing shorts.
This year, though, something weird is going down. For three weeks now, we've had proper summer weather. It's been hot, real hot. It's been sunny, to the point where my skin is starting to darken!
Hark! What is this? The beginnings of a tan? Can my skin even do that anymore?! Someone grab the SPF!
I've sent my son to school in shorts every day for three weeks! I've work skirts or capri pants myself every day except one where I decided to wear pants because it was overcast in the morning. By lunch, of course, the sun was out and blazing, and I was miserable.
I hesitate to write about this, because I don't want to be the one to jinx it. But it's just so unusual!
Unfortunately, it's also uncomfortable. Because it's so rare to have temps this high for so long, England isn't really equipped to deal with the heat. So we have no A/C at home, in our cars, or at work. We go from hot to hot. No respite for the sweaty, I guess. I spent a large chunk of this afternoon daydreaming about a cold, crisp, air conditioned home. And getting ice in my drink without having to ask for it. Ahh, some day!
But let me not whine about this. I'm happy to have the sun and the heat. I'm uncomfortable and sweaty and gross, but whatever. It's SUMMER! And it actually feels like summer! So much so that at 7 pm tonight, while walking along the River Ouse in Thetford, Caleb and his friend Lil (who was over for the day) and I did a bit of wading around in a shallow part of the river.
I didn't realize this shallow section even existed today until a local mom by clued me in. We don't normally walk this far down the river. But once she mentioned it, we set out searching for our own little piece of local paradise.
And we had a fantastic time. Totally unplanned, totally unprepared, and totally fun. Such a nice, cool respite from the sweltering day.
Seeing my little boy become a big boy this summer has been equal parts thrilling and heartbreaking for me. I'm so excited that he's not scared of things that used to terrify him just a few months ago. I'm so proud of how adventurous and brave he's become. But my mommy heart breaks a little that my baby isn't a baby anymore and won't ever be a baby again.
But he is becoming my big boy. And I'm so excited to watch it happen. And excited that he has such a great pal along for this part of the ride.
Here's hoping for more hot weekends in England! Happy summer, everyone!