In praise of shade – a summer contrarian

So summer is finally with us (with apologies to antipodean friends).

Exams are over, schools are out – or nearly so. Professional colleagues are taking a break, to hotter climes, or cooler, depending on their starting point. City dwellers are flocking to favorite get-away places. The blogosphere is awash with travel snaps and the anticipation of routines escaped, littered with “out of blog” notices. In short, wealthy first world northerners are indulging in their annual flight-fest.

Many seek the sun, flocking south “in their million hordes”. From the cold, the wet, the dark, drawn to the sunlight – moths to a flame. But all of us – lizards, lemmings or pale skinned lambs – seek the blessing of shade sooner or later. Parasols are good, gazebos are better, but deep down we all know that trees give the best shade. Perhaps something inside from the days before we left them…

Now I could bore you with wonderful facts and endless statistics about the shade and life giving wonders of trees. Of how the earth would be scorched and desolate without them, or why tree-shade is always cooler than concrete-shade. But I won’t. Not today, at least. Because you all know that some of life’s sweetest summer moments are spent in peaceful arboreal shade…

  • “People watching” in Southern European town squares under pollarded planes or luscious maples
  • Chilling in hot city parks while children chase frisbees and dogs chase children
  • Recovering behind Mediterranean beaches in the cool of stone pines and cypresses
  • Picnicking in flower strewn orchards, or by cool mountain streams
  • Strolling in the dappled shade of beech forests or the deep gloom of conifers
  • Exploring exotic flea markets in out of the way places
  • Sipping that first icy cocktail under a pergola in an Aegean taverna

Need I say more?

Here are some “postcards” old and new, to remind you of the shade giving blessing of trees. When you’re sipping that first icy cocktail, remember to say a silent “thank you” to those who planted your shade.

Lebanon, 2012

Dorchester, c1900

Adelaide, 2011

Cornwall, c1890

PS – thank you to Kim, for leading me to the wonders of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs on-line catalogue. If you haven’t been, go soon!

  1. You also love trees? I love those photos – & I am also a lover of shade 🙂 Am following 🙂

  2. but should quickly add that, apart from today, I’ve gone quiet-ish while I complete my PhD. If I don’t post or comment for a while, forgive – I’m studying hard 🙂

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