This extraordinary summer continues abated. The entire country seems to be in agreement that this is the best summer ever, even though Greece and Sweden are on fire and these temperatures are, in part, because humankind is ruining the planet. I am torn between utter happiness that summer this year is real summer, real brown-grass, sweaty, no-appetite-because-it’s-too-warm summer, and guilt that we’ll likely burn this place down for our children and theirs to follow.
It has barely rained, and polite water-restriction murmurs have begun, suggestions not to fill up splash pools. I can’t believe we’ve reached a point in northern Germany, this rainy, green, lush place, in which we’re being told to be careful with water. I have always been told to be generous with water, to flush out the narrow plumbing, everyone tells me. It’s something my old habits cannot allow. I grew up in a country beseiged by drought. In fact, it’s in its worst drought in a hundred years, right now. Two minute showers, taps off while brushing teeth, garden-watering and car-washing bans in the summer. I’m trying to teach the kids about water conservation every chance I get, particularly as this dry summer crackles on, and the garden droops and hydrangeas burn. On the days we use it, they’re only allowed a bit of water in the Planschbecken, and afterwards, we carry it to the plants in buckets. We’re at the beach so often, many days that’s their bath. The tap must only be on lightly when they wash their hands. ‘Why?’ (Die Lüdde’s favourite word since she was 18 months old.) Because water is the most precious thing we have and we mustn’t waste it. My German husband goes along with it, but he didn’t grow up with these precautions, he didn’t grow up with water scarcity as a normal thing, with farmers forced to slaughter their livestock because there isn’t enough feed and the poor things starved.
Naturally, everyone’s complaining. It’s too hot, where’s the air con, my Kreislauf! We had a white Easter, the coldest winter in a long time, and now everyone’s complaining it’s too hot. It’s so tedious. The bare branches and grey skies of winter are mere months away. Life will move indoors again and we’ll be staring out the window at the grey, clutching hot drinks and wearing Hausschuhe, vitamin D deprived and dreaming about the sun. And all we can do right now is complain about the Hitze. The whispers about ‘fall’ and ‘pumpkins’ have begun and I want to scream it’s only just August, let it be summer, let it be, let it be, let it be. Why wish time away? It is so horribly quick as it is. Die Lüdde turns four next week. Four. The summer she was born was a long, warm one too, and suddenly nearly five have passed since that afternoon she arrived in a room overlooking the fjord.
I have been thinking, recently, of life’s seasons. It helps to see them like that, because you can then see how fleeting they are. Both kids are home at the moment, with die Lüdde’s kindergarten on holdiays, and it means the precious writing time I have is reduced even further for these few weeks. The sense of wanting to achieve while not having the time to do so feels, sometimes, oppressive. Such is this season, when my kids are small and their parents their sun. I can achieve later, I will have more time to write later. This season, swift, will pass. Now just getting some words down while the little one sleeps is an achievement, an outlet that will bear fruit later. And it must coexist with getting them to the beach, watching them learn to swim, getting them to share and take turns and not fight, use better words, ask more questions. Coexist and, more often than not, take a backseat.
It all has to coexist, I suppose. The sheer delight at this summer with the guilt that our irreversible footprint has helped cause it. The digging into life here, with one eye on where I come from. These golden years of little hands and endless questions and intoning ‘no fighting’ dozens of times a day, with a desire to write, something that demands time and solace. As I get older, Iike to think I am getting better at letting it all jostle within me, letting it clamour for attention while choosing one thing (or two or three things, but not ten) to do at a time, knowing that the time will come for the other things. I like to think the impetuousness that defined my twenties is slightly less dominant in my early thirties, or more dormant. Biding its time for when my time is less required by others, for when the impetus can be directed within.
We’ll go back to the beach this afternoon. It’s hot again today. The kids have barely worn clothes for days, they’re living on fruit. This is a good season.