The English Summer

By Tanja Bueltmann

It’s official: according to weather experts, the summer in England this year has been the coldest for 18 years. And, as these pictures clearly show there has certainly been a fair amount of rain as well.

For many migrants and visitors, however, the ‘traditional’ notion of the English summer has long since had a charme  of its own. Thus wrote Nathaniel Hawthorne in his Our Old Home: A Series of English Sketches: “… and yet the picture of that June morning has a glory in my memory, owing chiefly, I believe, to the charm of the English summer-weather, the really good days of which are the most delightful that mortal man can ever hope to be favored with. Such a genial warmth! A little too warm, it might be, yet only to such a degree as to assure an American … that he was quite warm enough. And after all, there was an unconquerable freshness in the atmosphere, which every little movement of a breeze shook over me like a dash of the ocean spray. … No doubt, I could not have enjoyed it so exquisitely, except that there must be still latent in us Western wanderers (even after an absence of two centuries and more), an adaptation to the English climate which makes us sensible of a motherly kindness in its scantiest sunshine, and overflows us whith delight at its more lavish smiles.” A writer in the Christian World Magazine agreed with Hawthorne. While writing, in 1866, of the good summer days in Canada, the writer nonetheless observed that “a fine English summer-day is perfection, unrivalled in America. … one could hardly think it could have been more delicious in Paradise. The very haze that softens the landscape heightens its charms, and then the glorious stretch of daisied and buttercupped meadows, with their herds and flocks, and the waving fields and sweet hedgerows … and vistas of quaint villages, ancient mansions, and church towers … make an English landscape, lighted up by the summer sun, the ideal of pastoral loveliness.” Summer or not, rolling pastures and rural landscapes have long since been associated with England, made popular in particular by eighteenth-century English landscape paintings. One of the best known painters of the English countryside, however, was John Constable.

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