If you have followed me for some time you know by now that I love summer in all its manifestations – even the heat doesn’t bother me. Unlike many Portuguese, who show up with black shadows under their eyes due to lack of sleep on hot summer nights, the heat suits me – in fact it is the cold that makes me want to hibernate and only wake up after the long dark months are over.
However, as much as I like warm days and nights, the hot breeze on my face, lying on the golden sand and swimming in the sea (especially in my beloved Madeira!), the very best of summer is spending relaxed, happy moments with my family and friends. Of course we tend to make the most of summer weekends but of course our holiday time is always the best.
From months of August of long ago holidaying in Madeira with my grandparents, mother and brother when days were spent by the sea, in sunny or overcast days; and nights were for dancing and partying with friends and very little sleep…to the time when my boys began bringing their friends along to stay and we had a house full of laughter and games and stories, and to this day.
Nowadays the boys have their own plans; they travel with their friends and go camping with their girlfriends which I think is fine; but there is always a time when they come back and the house, that used to be so quiet and orderly, suddenly comes alive and the mess of their rooms makes me angry but then I think we are on holidays and things should not be taken too seriously. They arrive with their friends and girlfriends, their surfboards and skateboards, their laughter and their music and their constant opening of the fridge always looking for more food…and there I go again, hurrying every morning to the supermarket to buy bacon and eggs for their breakfast – that they take at lunchtime – lettuce and tomato for the salads they will not be without and the inevitable bottles of Coke that I’m always saying I shouldn’t buy…
As was the tradition many years ago many years ago in Madeira, we all have dinner together and talk about many things at the table; their hopes and dreams, international politics, ethics and philosophy, love and relationships, the old times and life in general…
A few nights ago was one of such occasions: I had bought hamburgers and Paulo, one of my son Afonso’s best friends from junior high school, offered to cook them as he has worked in a hamburger restaurant a few years ago. Afonso said he would help make dinner so I was excused from the kitchen. Pedro passed by the supermarket to buy a few things that were needed and their girlfriends promised to help me with the dishes. After some hard work the chefs produced the most delicious hamburgers with caramelised onion, fried peppers and potatoes baked in the oven, all with the delicious yoghurt and garlic sauce that a South African friends taught us long ago – the sauce they use over there for braai vleis (barbecue in Afrikaans).
After dinner my son Pedro wanted to show his girlfriend some old photos and we laughed so much at how little he was, so cute with his yellow hair and ready smile that showed his parted front teeth. We were laughing at how naughty he looked when suddenly he started shouting as he looked at a photo taken more than ten years ago on the beach…his girlfriend was also there with some friends of my sons’ who also holiday here and who are her cousins… This means they had met many years before but none remembered it…we all laughed and she sent the photo to her mother who immediately replied in a smiling mode “it was fate…”
Now the house is quiet again as they have gone out and I wonder at the incredible coincidences of this life, and also at so many happy moments that are soon transformed into happy memories. Such as tonight. Such as last Monday when we had a friend of Afonso’s 25th birthday party and it was a warm lovely evening, so unusual in these parts, and our dear friends’ (his parents) garden was decorated the Hawaiian way with bright drawings and colours and the dress code was either white or flowers. We stayed on until 2 am talking and listening to the music and even dancing, making for another perfect summer night.
I could go on and on, but it’s getting late. I’m off to bed now, for tomorrow I’ll be going back to Lisbon for the second leg of our summer holidays – the trip to Mozambique. Where the memories of my childhood do not include a summer each year, but in fact and endless summer as it was almost always warm and sunny. With many memories that that I’m hoping to recapture now that I’m going back and new ones we’ll be making as a family – so that we may always keep yet another very special summer in our hearts.