Sunday 27 June 2010

Things I like to do in Summer

You know those dreadful books? The ones called things like 1001 Places You MUST Visit Before You Die, or 1001 Wildlife Spectacles To See Before You Die, or the slightly more sinister sounding 1001 Escapes to Experience Before You Die. I really hate those books. As if the one thing that will really improve our lives is another to do list.

And I hate that they reduce the wonder of the world to yet another thing that needs to be 'done', that can be 'done'. The world deserves more than that. I've never picked one up, but I'd be surprised if they mention at all the ethical dilemmas of travelling to any of these places. I don't think even the wildlife ones will talk about the carbon footprint of flying, nor the increased extinction rate that will result from global warming. If they did, they'd probably still make the books, but just re-title them 1001 Wildlife Spectacles To See Before They Die.

So, my posts this week will celebrate the coming of the Summer and show you the things I do to squeeze every drop of joy from the most glorious of seasons: not 3 Things You Must Do Before The Swallows Fly, just 3 things I like to do.

First up is appreciating flowers. Every roadside, park and hedge is full of flowers at this time of year. How many times do we pass them with the most cursory of glances, on our way to somewhere else- thinking of somewhere else. So I try to make the effort to stop and really look at them. Admire the intricacy, be baffled by the biology. One of the things I will be sure to do, sometime in early summer, is to find a dog rose and spend some time really looking at it. It's surely the most perfect of flowers, complete in its simplicity.

The dreadfully overused phrase 'Stop and smell the flowers' isn't really talking about flowers, I know, but maybe it should be. My life (and my summer) is certainly improved by paying attention to small and beautiful things, and where better to start than flowers?

As the golfer Walter Hagen put it:

You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry. Don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.

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