Friday, 13 July 2012

"Where is the summer, the unimaginable zero summer?"

Despite TS Eliot's rather pessimistic outlook on the season in question and despite the non-appearance of much that gives us in the UK any tangible experience of what we usually call summer, it is not unimaginable. No, siree! We've got the imagination all right; it's the reality we're lacking!

Extreme times call for extreme measures and I've found it time to deploy the head-in-the-sand approach. It is summer. It just doesn't feel like it. I like the summery notion of being in the garden bare-foot and picking sun-drenched flowers just as my forebears did, not that far from where I live now in some cases, attired in suitably, sun-drenched, flowery garb.

I am not willing to give in to the rain-soaked alternative reality, as the sum total of this summer's story so...
... my sweet peas are blooming and, although sparkling with rain drops rather than summer sun, they are beautiful. I am going to pick them and enjoy them.

The grass, although soaking wet underfoot, is green and soft ... so it is time to dispense with shoes and go barefoot.

There has been not a lot of time to sew a flowery, country summer dress full of romantic tucks and gathers but there has been time to dream up something smaller and quicker so ... I have made a flowery country apron not for the practical use of my earlier business-like Spring Aprons but for unashamedly ditsy and impractical use.

Let the reader understand: this apron has no serious practical use - if you wear it to whisk a bowl of cream, you will probably end up with cream all over your clothes; if you wear it to replant your cuttings or wash the patio, it will probably do no more than shield you from half the spillages; if you wear it to prepare supper that consists of anything more lively than a serene salad, you will probably wish for something more business-like; but if you wear it to feel in touch with your Victorian forebears and the inhabitants of country cottages and country gardens I guarantee you complete and utter satisfaction!

Not an entirely hypothetical question as I plan to make another couple over the next week or so to give away. Anyone like one? Let me know, if so. (Sweet peas not included, I am afraid, as they are too fragile for posting!) I'll post a little tutorial in case you prefer to make your own apron anyway.

Who said aprons were a functional rather than a decorative accessory!? I don't know and I don't care. Wearing this one makes me feel summery, timeless and a bit floaty. All good in this humdrum world in which "human kind cannot bear very much reality"

I began with TS Eliot and I'll end with him. These lines from the first of his "Four Quartets" might make a suitable elegy for the English summer of 2012.

"And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
and the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
the surface glittered out of heart of light,
and they were behind us reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
what might have been and what has been
point to one end, which is always present."

(TS Eliot: Burnt Norton)

Not TS Eliot's "lotos" but the first waterlily to bloom on our pond. No wonder it's at home, with all the rain!
Sorry the pic is a bit blurred - unless I stepped into the pond I couldn't get a close-up without the zoom which doesn't do very well when cropped.


  1. Your apron is lovely and very English! You'll get some sun soon, I think!

  2. Poetry AND evidence of summer...heaven. I have been doing the same thing here, refusing to give up on summer and obstinately wearing sandals when it is 13 degrees. I love your apron and I love it even more because it's impractical. Sometimes one needs some floatiness. You sweet peas have such vivid colours. Mine still, STILL, have not flowered. I'm starting to give up on them.

    Have a wonderful (and sunny?) weekend Elizabeth.

    Gillian x

  3. What a beautiful apron! And I find it's best to be 'glass half full' this summer otherwise it would be a very dreary year. It looks like you had a lovely turn around your garden smelling the sweet peas ;)! I'm not sure I would wear an apron like this with as much grace as you, but I'd love to give it a go!!!

  4. Ooh beautiful - I would love to buy one xx

  5. Oh please put me down for one of your nost fabulous aprons . It reminds me of when i was fin my teens and long Victorian style skirts were the rage when worn with white Victorian Lauea Ashley blouses- now I'm showingmy age !

  6. Love the apron, even if you get cream all over your clothes! :)

  7. Please go ahead and enjoy every second of summer you can. You look lovely in your apron and barefoot toes. That is one of the pleasures I have had to give up after moving to Texas. Here you go barefoot at your own peril -- the grass is full of fierce stickers. They find their way into the house and end up in various inconvenient places, including pillows!

  8. Your photos remind me of the English countryside, Thomas Hardy, Laura Ashley, and the bucolic images from the like of Myles Birkett-Foster and Helen Allingham. Well done for enjoying the summer (despite the weather being so unhelpful) and everything does look lush and green which is one benefit. I am also celebrating the summer by going to my Mum and Dad's village fete today - how English is that?
    Best wishes
    P.S I love the apron - so pretty - who cares if it is impractical?!

  9. Really enjoyed reading this! Love sweet peas and saw some gorgeous displays at the Kent Show yesterday. Lovely apron - you wear it well :-) I too have decided not to be cast down by the lack of sunshine and to carry on regardless!

  10. aaahhhhh, you know of my love of your aprons - it is how I first become aware of your talents. You look very 'right' in your clothes in your garden - I can't explain it better than that but you look all 'country'. And very slender too! Are you sure that's your garden and not some National Trust place where you've jumped the wall....? THANK you for the muffin recipe btw - I did make them, they've all been scoffed - very moist and moreish!

  11. It looks like the perfect gardening apron! Plus your garden is sublime!!!

    I have made something I think you would love! ... I can't wait to show you ...

    Kate xxx

  12. The apron is lovely but the sweet peas are incredible! I've never seen any with those jewel tones. I live in an arid part of the U.S.A. and would love to be able to grow sweet peas like that. We're due to visit the U.K. in September but I'll bet the sweet peas are gone by then. Oh well....

  13. Lovely, lovely, lovely. You would have had me with the sweetpeas alone and then you revealed that apron and I was sighing away dreaming away of summer evenings. Our 14th July firework displays last night went off with a damp fizz. It was an awful evening weatherwise. It can be rather charming to fall asleep to the sound of rainfall though. See? I'm trying to be positive. T.S. Eliot always makes me nostaligic somehow for Britain...


    The sun will come out. No doubt we are heading for an idyllic Indian summer again.

  14. Oh Elizabeth how your post made me smile! Never mind the rain, it IS summer and you're going to be summery come what may!!! So wonderfully Englsh - that war spirit of 'never say die'!!!! BTW, I LOVE your apron and that whole Victorian thing - have just finished watching Middlemarch (again) and am so in love with all things Victorian..... Here's hoping for a late Summer! Much love. xxxx

  15. Your snatched moment of summer looks wonderful, and the apron is just gorgeous.
    By the way I made some rose petal jam after seeing your post and it came out delicious

  16. The sweet peas are beautiful, I love their vibrant colours and your new apron is perfect for a romantic stroll around a Victorian summer garden. X

  17. I love your discussion of the apron and your reasoning (non-reasoning?) for making it. And love the apron too! Wishing you some sun-soaked reality,

  18. I seem to be giving my children the same answer at the moment, everytime there is a break in the weather. "We're doing this, because its not raining". Making the most of it all! I think you look gorgeous in your apron. It looks perfect with a denim skirt. A beautiful touch of summer.

  19. Looks pretty summery to me, but then I might be in Antarctica and unaware of anything but
    the once "unimaginable sub-zero" I have come to appreciate, or at least respect.
    Good idea...a kind of Don Quixote apron, perfectly impractical and in keeping
    with the "aesthetics of imperfection." There's too much mankind-made perfection.


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me at Mrs TT's and comment. I love to read what you write.