When we lived up near New York City, we’d spend as much of the summertime outdoors as possible: hiking, picnicking, gardening, relaxing down the shore, taking an after-dinner stroll. Restaurants opened up their terraces to the warm sunshiny days and the pleasant evenings. We’d sit outside on the front stoop sipping cool drinks, chatting with the neighbours – who we hardly saw during the frigid winters when everyone cocooned as much as possible inside their toasty apartments. Occasionally we’d arrange a tea on the front porch of our apartment block.
Then we moved to the Southlands and it was like we’d gone through the looking glass.
During summer here, the temperatures climb so high that some days you can barely catch your breath. I’m talking 90s and triple digits. The sun is so hot that we actually have to cover our garden with canopies so it doesn’t burn up our tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. Weeks go by when we don’t see temperatures below the 80s – and that’s at night! People move from their air-conditioned homes to their air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned offices or shops as quickly as possible. And don’t even talk to me about the bugs – they’re so big you could saddle ‘em and ride ‘em. So during the summer we sip our tea indoors, surrounded by kitties, our contact with the outdoors limited to gazing out the windows from the cool interior.
Ahhh, but late autumn and early winter here are absolutely wonderful times to be outdoors. While our friends up north are shivering, these are the comfortably cool, sunny days when we hike to the local waterfalls, or fire up the grill, or spend the whole day prepping our garden for the next growing season. And when we can, at last, comfortably take our tea outside at any time of day.
The balcony is in the front of the house and faces east; in the early morning there’s still a chill in the air so we might need to wear slippers and a sweater, but by about ten o’clock it’s just us and our teacups. Or we head out back to the patio and sip our tea accompanied by our sweet dog Rufus. The wood-and-iron bench isn’t quite as comfortable as our rocking chairs up on the balcony, but the company can’t be beat. Nor can the view. Our property stretches as far as the eye can see in three directions, and except for the area right around the house – Rufus’ yard, the gardens, and the orchard – it’s all densely wooded. “Leaf” season starts later, and lingers later, than up North; the colours are softer and not as intense, and it is really quite pretty.
In many ways it’s a different world here in the Southlands. But as time goes by, and we learn to adapt to the differences, we’re finding that we wouldn’t have it any other way.
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