August 9, 2011

Summer nights, how I love thee

Day 221 of Vintage 365


Vincent Van Gogh once said, quite fittingly, "I often think that the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day". I, for one, am more than a little inclined to agree with the artist, and perhaps at no time of the year is that notion more apt than during the summer.

Night is an enigma, a joy, a fright, an adventure. It calls to us and yet can put our guard up, for we're taught from the earliest of ages that it is during the night when things of danger and potentially even evil lurk. As we grow up and the line between day and night fads somewhat, we often cease to fear the dark, yet we maintain a healthy respect for it.

In an era, now over a hundred years old, of electrically lighted cities and towns, highways and everyday streets, night doesn't necessarily hold all of the power it once did, but it still retains an illusive quality that endears it to my heart like a dear friend.

While there is much to be said in favour of a summer day, it is night that makes for my most favourite part of this tantalizingly warm season. Summer nights as a child held a world of possibility that the day simply could not compete with.

On the warmest of July and August eves, in a corner of B.C. that swarmed with tourist activity from sun up until sun down, my parents would sometimes take me - and when they got older, my siblings, too - to the local beach at night.

The lake that this beach called home was separated by a narrow two lane road from a long strip of hotels, restaurants and small shops, many of which had neon signs that cut through the inky blackness like permanent fireflies.

In water so warm you almost boil an egg, I floated on my back and gazed up through wet eyelashes at those glowing signs, a sky of dusty stars, the outlines of tall hills surrounding the town. The unforgettable scent of fried foods, car exhaust, suntan lotion, cotton towels and damp sand filling my nostrils.

{Night swimming is joy that's long been embraced by swimmers of all ages, the darkness somehow making the simple act of playing in the water about a million times more fantastic and magical. Vintage photo by O. Winston Link via UTATA.}

Those nights of swimming, a blend of serenity and energy few things I've ever experienced can match, are but one page in the history book of summer my life has written.

There are also smoky campfires, lengthy road trips, tree house sleepovers, neighbourhood parties, drive-in movie theaters, shadowy games of hide-and-go-seek, the intoxicating aroma of honeysuckle and wisteria wafting through my bedroom window, hours spent secretly sitting on the roof of our small Edwardian home with my little brother as we craned our necks to watch for bats, shooting stars, and - we hoped - perhaps, just maybe, (this being the era of X-Files after all) a UFO.

For every summer night I've lived, I have a memory, and each is a cherished possession. It was during summer nights that I first hitch-hiked (sorry, mom!), first watched a drag race, first remember staying up to see the sun fully rise.

I grew taller, got braver, became stronger, let go and embraced a million things in those summer nights of childhood. I kissed and cried, planned and dreamed with eyes wide open. I pinky swore, sung until I was hoarse, made solemn promises, and, in so very many ways, grew up.

At all times of the year, I am more of a night person than a lover of day. It is during this current season however, when the moon winks at the world, a cotton sundress can be worn comfortably at 2am, and an exhilarating, electric energy pulsates through each fibre of the air, that I recharge my soul's batteries, recall those magic memories of youth, and stay awake far later than most, blissfully thankful for the power and, as Van Gogh described, rich colours of summertime nights.


  1. Sometimes when I am stressed out I go to my local Anthropologie just to decompress. The smells of the lit scented candles, the beauty of the clothing, and the details of the displays set my heart at ease. I found this same sense of peace here at your wonderful blog. Your prose is like a warm fuzzy blanket that envelopes my heart.

    Thanks doll,
    The Glamorous Housewife

  2. Such a romantic, evocative post. I love your description of night-time summer swimming.