Summer Self


I don't always ask to be seated outdoors in the summer! (Photo: Lower Deck, Halifax from tripadvisor)

I don’t always ask to be seated outdoors in the summer! (Photo: Lower Deck, Halifax from tripadvisor)

I have a winter self and a summer self.

My summer self is fit and wears a bathing suit for walks on the beach and sips homemade iced tea with springs of mint and sits out on the deck in the evenings watching the sunsets. My summer self gets up as soon as the birds start chirping and weeds the flower beds before it gets too hot. It drinks water and has a salad for lunch. It organizes get-togethers for friends every weekend with bonfires and beer and toasted marshmallows. My summer self drops everything to attend the Buskers Festival and the Fringe Festival, and goes bar-hopping after. When my summer self gets tired of city life, it goes on a road trip and pitches a tent on a cliff by the ocean. And of course my summer self buys passes to all the music festivals and romps in them, rain or mud or shine.

OK, the slightly-detached manner of calling myself โ€œitโ€ has probably clued you in that this is not really me. It is what I think I should be in the summer. June is a nice late Spring month. We have three months of summer, July, August and September, with increasingly cool nights starting halfway through. I have grandiose ideas of what I should do and see and be in the all-too-short summer.

I imagine myself being full of energy for concerts and festivals and entertaining and travel.

Something i could actually do - wash my own car (Photo:

Something i could actually do – wash my own car (Photo:

I imagine myself re-landscaping the yard, creating new flower beds, and washing my own car.

I imagine myself being fit and healthy (which would have had to happen all winter and spring, ha!) I can even picture myself with a tan and painted toenails ๐Ÿ™‚

Sadly not my foot (Photo:

Sadly not my foot (Photo:

The reality? Not so much. My work schedule is the same all year. I use vacation to travel at various times of year, rather than to relax in the summer. I look pasty and my toes are not cute. I am always shivering in the air conditioning. Iโ€™m often too tired to contemplate a festival or concert after work. I donโ€™t improve my diet and eat light. I am inclined to sit indoors and read a book. And I even drink coffee!

Maybe winter is better for people like me?

This summer I pledge to enjoy the season and not pressure myself to be a new person. I do love getting up early and listening to the birds while drinking my hot coffee. I will continue walking to and from work and enjoying โ€œnot being cold.โ€ I will occasionally have salads, but I wonโ€™t give up soup or pasta. I will go to concerts and movies and festivals โ€“ just not as many as I feel I โ€œshould.โ€ Iโ€™ll weed the flower beds on the weekends and cut the grass, and thatโ€™s all, and it will be enough.

Sometimes we play tourist in our own town, or drive two hours to another one. Sometimes we go for a long walk on the beach early on a Saturday before it gets hot and one would be expected to wear a swimsuit. And sometimes we take our bowls of chick pea curry out on the deck and eat dinner in the fresh air with our laptops ๐Ÿ™‚

How summery is that?

Is there a season in which you flourish and feel full of energy? Or are you the same year-round?


  1. Oh thank God. I thought that was you for a moment, and was at once having trouble reconciling it to the “you” that I have in my mind and being jealous of how virtuous and organised and go-getter you are in summer. (But not half as jealous as I am of that lovely foot!!)

    Your plans sound summery enough for me! I always start the day with a cup of tea and on summer holidays have one at lunch – so I have to sit inside as I can’t drink hot tea when I am hot. I tend to be slothful year round, getting up about 10am on weekends and holidays, and then have a slow breakfast. Summer or winter, I don’t seem to get outside until 12. Not good for gardening in summer! An iPad and wifi has made me even slower!

    That said, I am both a winter and a summer person. When the next season comes around I am ready to say goodbye to the last. So in summer I do more physical activity and laze by the pool with a book. I winter, I snuggle under a blanket with a book and a DVD. Our food changes too – stir-fries, seafood, BBQs and salad on the verandah in summer; roasts, soups, casseroles and curries in winter. And my alcohol – cocktails, beer and bubbles in summer; red wine and butterscotch schnapps in winter.

    • I have a hard time giving up my slothful, indoor, wintery ways. So in the summer I have to push myself not to sit in the house, using the computer for half the day. If I’m really good, I might get outdoors and do some weeding or mow the lawn around 10 am, or just leave it until 6 or 7! (But then the black flies or mosquitoes come out, so it is motivating to go for the mornings).

      I’m curious what you mix with butterscotch schnapps!

      • I have the schnapps on its own in little shot glasses. I like it cold so add slithers of ice.

        When I am down the snow I get fresh snow and make a schnapps slushy. It’s not that easy anymore as there are so many snow makers spraying everywhere that it is hard getting clean, freshly fallen snow. But a butterscotch schnapps slushy is a lovely dessert.

      • Would it be good over vanilla ice cream? The Godiva chocolate liqueur is!

  2. I definitely feel like I have a ‘summer self’! Maybe not as drastic a change as you outlined above, but there’s just something about being able to go outside without having to pile on layers that makes me so much happier. I love walking everywhere in the summer, and all of the green trees and lawns and plants seem to make me more energetic and more inspired. Maybe it’s because we have such long, cold winters in Canada, but I always feel like I come out of ‘hibernation’ every spring :p

    • That’s something I relate to – I love being able to walk outdoors or stay outside without jackets and layers! Are you boiling in the greenhouse all summer?

      • Thankfully it hasn’t gotten too hot yet, so it’s been okay so far. I’m not looking forward to those 30+ยฐ days though!

  3. You are definitely more up to the concerts and festivals than I never have been! But I know what you mean, I do feel like I’m more of a hermit as things get colder here. Peppermint tea, TV shows, a throw on my wrap AND some of my first embroidery/cross-stitching!! Seriously, we got out of bed at about 11.30am, despite a 8am alarm (for tablets, which is why we went back to sleep!)

    I never tan! I did go to two markets this weekend, so that feels better odds than usual…

    • I am not one for sleeping late but I do like lazy mornings! Maybe part of it is because I have commitments every Sunday morning, as you do, which take up half the day…leaving me with only Saturdays for any kind of project. I would love to see how your embroidery or cross stitch is doing – I used to do tons of cross stitch, and still have my supplies “just in case”!

  4. Ha ha, I thought I must be a real odd bold as I don’t do any of that. I think the real version is much better x

  5. Ha, I have this same conflict in my life. Just the other day I had to pull myself away from a display of maxi dresses and kaftans. Our summers here are so short and it simply isn’t practical to stock up on summer clothes. And yet. And yet, I envision myself in a floaty kaftan, barefoot, cocktail in hand, music in the background, wafting incense…you know, Talitha Getty in Morocco. Oddly enough, I really dislike the sunshine, heat and tanning.
    The reality is I’m a cold rainy day in autumn kind of person. Curled up in soft blankets with a good book.
    I guess I’m a cold weather bohemian.

    • What region do you live in, Gam Kau? I had to look up Talitha Getty; great reference point! I haven’t tanned for decades but I used to get nut brown when I was a teenager. Like most people in my area, I like Fall best because of the sunshine, crisp air, and the motivated feeling of a new year at work or school.

  6. Fiona

    I think “chickpea curry on the deck – with laptops” is an awesome, updated image of summer! I nearly died when I read the original account. That is a lot of pressure for the summer self to live up to! There is that pressure though – especially if you read your Facebook feed on a hot summer’s night!

    Here, I always feel deprived of a ‘proper’ winter self. It gets cold but no snow. No chance to hunker down to hibernate in front of an open fire, books ready, hot chocolate at hand! I want to ‘over-winter’ in a really cold climate just once!

    • Yeah, the extreme contrast does make you appreciate the change of seasons more. We became accustomed to about 2.5 months of cold and snow, and this year we got 4.5, definitely too much.

      Facebook is exactly the problem. I am happy for others who enjoy the summer as they do, but feel no desire to keep up! Work is probably a little worse – not my local branch, but the monthly managers’ meetings at which everyone trades vacation and travel stories. I had a laugh – two of my coworkers visited New York this year. One went to see the tapestries at The Cloisters and the Tenement Museum, and the other went on a bus tour to drive by celebrity homes!

  7. Our “wanna be self” is always a cleaned up and aspirational version. It is kind of like Facebook, where you create a public version of self that you only closely resemble. For some reason, I recall a comment from the book “Shogun” where the Japanese believed you have six versions of self – what you want to be, what your portray, who you think you are, what others think you are and so on.

    Keep being who you are and do those local tourist ideas – it makes it special. When our kids were little, we got a copy of tourist magazines for our state and another next door and started doing day trips on the weekend. Lots of fun. BTG

  8. No, I am the opposite, I am afraid – it may not be by much, but my summer self definitely gets more done and is a happier person!

    • I think because I was a student for so long (until age 23), I have always liked the energy of the “school year” – September to June. I love not being cold – but otherwise, I am more productive at other times of the year. I feel like I should slack off and have fun during the summer, but work goes on as usual.

  9. Thanks for thoughtful ruminations about the seasons. My own blog exists to explore human reactions to the seasons, and this is a great insight–that there is an ideal of how we should be in each season, and it’s likely just another of the ideal, ‘advertised’ selves with which we torment our real selves.

    • My work and largely indoor pursuits make my life the same most of the year – on one level. But I think we cycle with the seasons whether we are out in them or not. Differences in light, warmth, humidity, energy, sleep, etc. Not to mention the racket the birds make ๐Ÿ™‚ I definitely think the social expectations we have for people change in each season.

  10. I guess my family has a different summer self – we have coffee in the screened porch in the morning (at least on weekends), spend time sprucing up the property so that we can throw a big summer party, try to visit the cottage once or twice and usually try to make it to a concert of some sort. We have tickets to Steve Miller/Journey/Tower of Power later this month (the husband is currently reliving the 80s). The entertaining is about the same – we always like to open our home to guests on weekends, but it feels so much easier in the summer.

    • We rarely entertain at home, but over the years have attended family reunions regularly. Sadly the older generation is less able to travel now, and the newer adults are too far-flung! Your summer life sounds like my parents’ when I was growing up: they have a lake property, and everyone came to them!

  11. My summer life involves sipping Pimms in the garden, whilst admiring my lovely flower bed… reality it’s an occasional coffee outside in the morning after I’ve pegged the washing out!

    i love the Spring more than any other season as I’m quite sure I get a little SAD during the winter. As soon as the sun starts shining again I feel like a weight has lifted.

    • I’ve never had Pimms; must remedy that! My one flower bed is short-lived because all the bulbs bloom in May and that’s it for the year – must fix that too!

      I think I have reverse SAD. I start feeling restless in May and feel much better in September. I think I associate it with school ending in June and not seeing my friends for two months because we were all bussed from a wide distance to our school. Plus, as you might have guessed, I fared much better when I had the routine of the school day, no matter how much I protested otherwise!

  12. Gotta agree with Lucinda on this one – I need my 4 seasons! Each one has its benefits or aspects I look forward to, but I’m ready to say goodbye after a few months. I really enjoy the relaxed feeling of summer – more daylight makes me feel like I have more time (although my bedtime remains the same), and I’m usually a little more productive as a result. We eat a little from the garden every day for most of August and September, plus a ton of fresh fruit so I probably am healthier than in January, when I’m craving warm cheese and noodles every night, haha. But I don’t worry about making my summer look good – some of my best summer moments have been laughing around a fire with my family, playing cards with my husband, and eating squash fresh off the grill. Not particularly brag-worthy moments like a trip to NYC, but very enjoyable for me ๐Ÿ™‚

    And I love soup in the summer, even though it makes me sweat like crazy to eat it when it’s hot! Glad to hear you eat soup all year too.

    • I like summer as much as any other season; I just feel more social pressure to report on fun activities all the time! I always look forward to strawberries and peaches and Concord grapes; and sun at 5 am; and twilight at 9:30 pm!

  13. Holly

    Great post! I always aspire to do too much in the summer. I believe it has to do with coming out from under a hard winter. Especially this year! A couple of years ago I started doing a few things to set apart the seasons. One of those for summer is coffee (!) on the patio before work, and wine in the same spot in the evening. Maybe 4 out of 7 days I do one of the two. In our short-lived fall I do a fire most weekends on the patio, and umm, the wine thing works then too. I just switch from white to red. ๐Ÿ™‚ I found it interesting when counting my clothing by season that I have far more for summer than winter. It may be that more lounging clothes are worn then, whereas in the summer I need more for going out. Or just in case that image of walking on the beach comes true.

    • Hi Holly, You’ve reminded me that one thing I like about the change of seasons is switching drinks ๐Ÿ™‚

      I have a big imbalance in my wardrobe, too! I tend to buy too many summer items, because they are cute and fun to buy versus the heavy winter stuff. But summer is so short that I shouldn’t be putting so much of my wardrobe budget into it! Like you say, I’m sure it’s because I have an image of myself doing summery things (in a fabulously dressed way).

  14. EcoCatLady

    Hmmmm…. that’s a really good question. I definitely love not having to be cold all the time, and getting to be outside is just wonderful. I especially love being able to run out to the garage or to take the trash out without having to bundle up. Well, that in addition to the bike rides. I logged 145 miles on my bike(s) last week, and I’d be lucky to post a quarter of that amount in the middle of January, so summer is definitely a busier time for me. But I’m generally ready for winter when it rolls around – it’s a nice break. So I guess you can put me in the 4 seasons camp as well.

    • It would be fantastic to be outdoors that much and be so fit! I haven’t found an outdoor activity, other than walking, that has tempted me to get serious.

      I can really relate to what you say about those times when you are literally just stepping outside the door and need to bundle up!

      • EcoCatLady

        Ha! Well, to be perfectly honest about it all, there’s no way I would have gotten here if it weren’t for CatMan. Seriously, the man is 20 years my senior, and hobbled with a variety of physical problems (a serious back problem, chronic neck pain, and a nerve injury that makes it almost impossible for him to walk) and STILL it’s all I can do to keep up with him! I doubt we ever would have met if he hadn’t been in that mountaineering accident so long ago, because I’d have just been a speck on the road as he zoomed past me!

        Anyhow, my advice is to team up with someone who you love spending time with, and who will keep you motivated and on track. I fear that if I were left to my own devices I’d revert to my sloth-like existence rather quickly! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • That is a nice thought, Cat!

  15. Your introduction had me wondering there – I thought I knew you quite well and your description of your ‘self’ didn’t fit with my idea of your life as I have come to know it through your blog!!
    For myself I love all the seasons. Rather than having a summer / winter self I find I am a different person here at home to the one I am when visiting our cottage in Scotland but then in Scotland we are more relaxed and don’t have the usual everyday presures we get here at home. We can sit out, wander on the beach go for a stroll to the village for icecream in the summer and in the winter we wrap up and do the same things but swap icecream for hot chocolate. At home it is all work and household chores we never seem to just have time to sit.

    • I didn’t really think about home versus cottage. I bet a lot of people have a special place to go where they can really unwind. Maybe someday I’ll do that too – and find a place where I don’t always feel I have to work on a project (so a cottage is out, ha ha!)

  16. Life seems full of possibilities in the summer. Everyone looks happier and people smile at each other a lot more. We have so many grey skies in England, a bit of blue gets us rather excited!

  17. I would love to be a carbon copy of your summer self! Unfortunately, even though I live in Las Vegas where it is technically possible to be summery all year long I am sadly lacking in willpower… Enjoy your summer however you choose to enjoy it…Ive heard the summer festivals in your part of Canada are amazing!

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