Despite the past few days for once actually resembling summer, last night the weather’s winning streak faltered, and the heavens opened just in time for the first barbecue of the season. This is not the first time such a thing has happened and I remain fairly positive that it won’t be the last either.
When I was travelling, people’s initial response after hearing that we were from Scotland went largely along the lines of (in this general order) whisky, kilts, independence, the weather (‘iss wet, no?’). In warmer climates like South America’s, the idea that it should rain during the summer was appalling, perhaps even abhorrent. Indeed, we met many Australians, New Zealanders and even Europeans who struggled to comprehend our sheer survival in such sogginess and cold. Hearing that we had “sometimes a couple of weeks of sunshine in the summer” was often met with silent, sad nods and lowered eyes, or muttered words of commiseration (“that sucks mate”, “maybe it’ll be three weeks this year” and so on.)
And of course when the weather is beautiful, and umbrellas are left behind next to the wellington boots, redundant cardigans left hanging on the peg over the raincoats; when people immerse themselves in the sheer novelty of buying an ice cream to eat in the park, and the shops dust off those pre-seasonal orders of buckets and spades for the few days that they will attract business, we momentarily forget the tempestuous weather of the previous week, back in the days of layers and closed toe shoes.
But it is only ever momentary, and we Scots are all too aware of the fleetingness of summer. While this attracts sympathy from foreigners, whose own summers generally prerequisite “long” and “hot”, it is the transience of the British summer which makes us appreciate those sunny days all the more. In any other country, should the rain clouds loom, the barbecue is called off. Here, we huddle under marquees in rain jackets, eating our strawberries from soggy paper bowls, cowering from the elements and having an absolute ball. It is always in summer time that people are at their best, and although the sun may not always be in our skies, we will have it forever in our disposition.