My song today is ‘Summertime’. This is an aria composed in 1934 by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera ‘Porgy and Bess’. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward, the author of the novel ‘Porgy’ on which the opera was based, although the song is also co-credited to Ira Gershwin.
The song soon became a popular and much-recorded jazz standard, described as "without doubt one of the finest songs the composer ever wrote. Gershwin's highly evocative writing brilliantly mixes elements of jazz and the song styles of blacks in the southeast United States from the early twentieth century".
Summertime, like every season of the year, has always been important to me, and none more than this summer of 2021. Like the rest of the nation, I have been disheartened by the repeated lockdowns and restrictions placed on all of us. An additional burden to me and Sheila over the past year has been an unwelcome progression of one of my three body cancers to a more advanced stage from which a cure is no longer possible. From my three different body cancers, two cancers are now assessed as being terminal, and the most aggressive of my skin cancer has shortened my lifespan to the extent that this summertime could well be my last.
As the country sees signs of many of its lockdown restrictions being lifted over the months ahead due to the increase vaccination programme in the population, and hopefully the decrease and control of Covid-19 virus and its several variants, I look forward to this year more than all previous years in my life.
I look forward to enjoying the warmth and new growth of spring, followed by the magic of summer evenings and summer shade in our allotment, along with a glorious display of flowers, bushes, and newly leafed trees. I want my next autumn to reflect in its variety of leaf foliage the most colours I have ever seen in one place at the same time and the breeze that blows through the trees to be the most welcoming and embracing.
As for next winter, I want to see snow on Christmas day and hear the unmistakable pleasure and excitable voices of young children sledging down snowy hillside slopes, building snowmen, and throwing snowballs in gleeful abandonment. I want to see the Christmas tree that Sheila and I planted in our allotment four years ago, pass my own height, and be able to imagine it standing there fifty years hence.
For the moment, however, I will not think beyond this spring and summertime, as I want these newly-born seasons to be every bit as good as if nature knew they could be my last. Let me plant new growth in our allotment this season, for this is the best way of seeing new tomorrows dawn. What I really love about summertime is that nature's song sings itself, and all that we need do is to breathe in the air of intoxication and delight in all the beauty which surrounds us.
For many years a robin revisited our allotment every spring, but last year we never saw it and feared some misfortune had occurred to it. I want to see our friendly robin approach ever so near again, to eat the crumbs on the ground as it bobs its head up and down in gratitude. I want to watch the worm bury its head beneath the garden soil once more until the robin has flown, enabling it to resurface. I want to see a kaleidoscopic invasion of my favourite Red Admiral butterflies flutter in flight as they revisit our allotment this summertime after several years of absence. Such would be a pleasure in itself to see the return of an old friend. I want to feel a sudden breeze gently brush across my face in the pleasant warmth of a summer’s afternoon and feel the presence of the angel of nature. Butterflies have such a short lifespan yet they fly fearlessly enjoying their briefest of lives without ever bothering about their inevitable demise.
What better blanket of love is there to be wrapped in than an English summer warming the relaxed body of an Irish man in his Garden of Eden as his beautiful wife bends and busies herself harvesting new potatoes to cook and serve for her man’s evening meal with a good lashing of salted Irish butter?
Springtime and summertime; are my best times, anytime, and for all time.
Love and peace