Riding down for the paper yesterday I noticed that the local farmers had actually made hay – I think the first time I’ve seen real hay being made the whole time we’ve been up here. Normally, it would be a brave farmer that put a bet on it not raining long enough for the grass to dry, so they generally make silage or at best haylage. But this year, it seems there’s been enought certainty – and enough sunshine – and proper hay, in square bales and everything, has been made. And as a result the whole countryside smells gorgeous, sun-baked and wonderful. We once helped a farming friend get his hay harvest in (you can imagine the mirth of the locals when he had the bales made specially small so that his townie helpers could actually lift them) and ever since the smell of hay has been the smell of summer for me – a half-imagined, half-remembered, glorious golden nostalgic scent, and well worth the fact that it was about 3 weeks before we’d picked all the hay out of our socks afterwards.
Add in the fact that the summer veg has got going at last – we had the first peas and broadbeans and mangetout this week – and we have, in fact, reached that point in a heat wave when we can start to tentatively believe that this time it might just stick around. I have finally risked a pair of shorts, and even have the beginning of sandal tan marks on my feet. Yesterday I realised that I was going to have to break out the full summer wardrobe and celebrate this miraculous weather properly, with my Dennis the Menace t-shirt.* For some reason this can only be worn on the hottest and sunniest of days; no other weather will do. As you can imagine, poor old Dennis doesn’t get out all that much – no wonder he looks so pleased. Finally the summer has arrived.
Long may it stick around.
* and yes, I imagine I am 25 years too old for it, but you know what? I don’t care. I can still remember sitting on the stairs every Wednesday morning when I was 7, waiting for the Beano to drop through the door and to be honest I’m not convinced I’m really all that much older now.
PS for any Americans reading this who were expecting your inferior American version of Dennis the Menace, it’s time to educate yourselves about the one true Dennis – and Gnasher.