People rave about summer. But this year it’s a bit hard to know from week to week if we are really having summer, or some other season.
Early religions, such as the Celts, celebrated the ending of winter and the lengthening days, bringing warmer weather. But here in the southern hemisphere, with summer coinciding with the Christmas and New Year festivities, we seem to have fallen in love with what is usually the hottest part of the year.
Most people have some holidays over this time and many people wait all year to relax and unwind with trips to the beach or lakes, barbeques and generally fully embracing the outdoors life.
However, not everyone loves summer.
With a high proportion of New Zealanders having European ancestry, summer time can bring sun burn and the ever increasing fear of melanoma.
Long days can also mean long work days for many in the agricultural sector, with harvesting an activity that can last well into the hot night.
Some people find the scorching temperatures unpleasant through the day and hot nights bring little or no sleep. But when the summer days turn cold, it’s also a challenge.
So while Ashburton Museum celebrates all things kiwi, including summer, this week we will consider the things that aren’t so hot about this season.
By Kathleen Stringer
- Sun protection these days concentrates on sun creams and clothing, however, a few people have been spotted with sun umbrellas. Our ancestors hid from the sun using some beautiful parasols. This one, from our collection has a peach satin lining.
- Parasols were rather expensive and often considered a little showy. However everyone needed a hat to complete their attire. Hats and parasols protected the pasty white ‘English rose’ complexion prized by our ancestors. While this lady looks refined, imagine wearing all that in the summer heat.
- Flies are a common summer problem, especially if you have an outdoor meal. Today there are all manner of sprays and inventions to get rid of these buzzing, dirty pests. In earlier days, homes hung these sticky papers from ceilings and flies just stuck themselves to it. Eventually the papers were full of flies and resembled the fruit slice so commonly called ‘fly cemeteries’.
- Water restrictions are a summer constant. Gardeners and farmers alike do what they can to save their precious plants, but often have to recycle water from other sources. This image shows council staff pumping water from the Domain. It was taken on March 18, 1931 when it was ‘very hot’ according to the photographer, 87.5 Fahrenheit, or 30 degrees Celsius.
- With these hot days, fire is a constant concern. This image shows the result of a spark from a steam engine. A massive fire raced through Chertsey in January 1926, killing one person and destroying the home of J P Cameron.
- While the long hot summers are ideal for harvesting crops, just pity the farmers of earlier times, who had no mod cons just as air conditions harvesters, or the ability to wear what they liked. Imagine this harvesting scene for times gone past – the noise of the engine, the dust of the chaff and the oppressive summer heat made all the more uncomfortable by the social demands that one should be respectable dressed at all times.