A Tale Of Two Summers
Hiding in the long grass of a wildflower meadow ever-so-slightly past its prime, reading a book pilfered from the shadowy depths of a library. It’s late July or August. Blue cornflowers, field poppies and golden marigolds sway in the breeze and tickle toes.
The book is William Boyd’s The Blue Afternoon. A compelling love story and murder mystery set in Manilla at the turn of the 20th century. And just like its protagonists, we’re on a quest for solace and secrets on a luminescent afternoon.
For this is the very hottest part of the year. A haze of lethargy descends upon us. After a heady season of celebrations we seek quietness in shade, in water, in nature. We sleep in the afternoon. Heal from our broken summer romances. Swim, shower, bathe.
There is an art to bathing (something we explore on pp34–35). Whether you choose to bask under the great oaks of a forest by moonlight or wild swim in the ice-cold water of a mountaintop lake, bathing has been proven to boost immune strength, reduce stress and improve cognitive function. Forest bathing is inspired by the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku and helps us deepen our relationship with the natural world and check in with ourselves.
This time of year we remind ourselves to celebrate all our feelings. This includes the summer blues. Blue after all is the colour of calm, peace and serenity. It’s known for its healing properties and purity. Deep indigo cornflowers, nigella and hydrangea soothe and sedate us and for this reason our Baby Blue bouquet comes into its own this season (see pp12–13). A season that comes wrapped in a certain sadness. The fizzing anticipation of high days and holidays ahead of us is gone. Summer and sun and freedom is no longer ahead of us. It’s here and now. And that means it’s nearly over.
In Portuguese there is a word for this feeling that we don’t have in English. There’s no direct translation for it, yet it’s the word that resonates with us dreamers. Saudade. A feeling of yearning or longing for the present moment. A feeling of nostalgia for the now.
It’s a reminder to enjoy life in the present moment. Tell ourselves that all is not lost. Today is the day. There is still time. Time to travel and to escape and to be. In this issue, we meet two people who live life by this ethos, in different ways. First, Eftihia Stefanidi (pp14–19), the photographer and hotel co-founder, explains how she came to create a space for creatives to escape to in the Grecian town she loves to call home. And then there is John Baker, part of the duo behind Canadian design store Mjölk. He reminds us that we don’t always have to settle for the lives we currently lead, and shares how he and his wife chose to move their family away from the city to a blissful home surrounded by nature (pp20–24).
Whilst a part of us is seeking solace from high sunlight in the cool shade of linen-dressed rooms, the other half seeks one last whirl of adventure. Road trips and freedom. Because there’s no way of living in the now like when you are moving day to day. And it’s in that spirit our most wild and reckless bouquet, Two Roads, was first dreamt up (pp10–11).
Vast open roads. Field upon field of sunflowers turning their heads towards the sun. A trio of horses shading themselves under an old oak tree. Then, suddenly, fat drops of rain reviving armfuls of just-picked roadside flowers. The earthy smell of fresh rain (called petrichor – we bet you didn’t know that), rising to greet us. The liberating drive onwards, the sunflowers now tightly furled. Rather brave and brilliant daisies, cow parsley and other wild flowers burst forth from the concrete on the side of the road.
There’s a song called High Summer by Van Morrison in which he sings, “Thank God the dark nights are drawing in again, ’cause high summer has got me down. I’ll wait till the end of August, And get off this merry-go-round.” We’re not ready to get off this merry-go-round – not by a long way yet – but our flowers this season are a reminder to go gently. Whether your last days of summer are spent seeking or retreating, in warm tones of yellow or healing shades of blue, make the most of these retrospective days.