“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you” Walt Whitman
The latest headline in our local paper reads ‘Hottest May since records began’ – Last month was the hottest May in continental Portugal since 1931, when records began, with an average maximum monthly temperature of 24.8ºC, minimum average of 13.1ºC and medium temperature of 19ºC, compared to the normal averages.
The number of days with maximum temperatures above or equal to 25ºC was around 15 days, far above the normal average of just six days. Tropical nights, where the minimum temperature is equal to or above 20ºC were also recorded in some places. (taken from the Portugal News 11/6/2011)
Well it’s usually the first question people ask us ‘What’s the weather like?’ and also the quickest way to annoy friends and family by telling them ‘oh it’s 28 and sunny today’ (erm.. every day!) but there is something quite magical about feeling the warm sun on your face, and waking up to see the sun streaming through the shutters. I know there are lots of research reports and studies into the health benefits of the sun; but it’s at a far more basic level than that for me – it just feels good! There is something deeply healing and soothing about walking along a beach in the sunshine, or being able to sit outside eating fresh food and enjoying a chilled wine as the sun sets.
There’s also that wonderful poem about having time to stop and stare… and the hot sun out here certainly makes you want to slow down and enjoy the view. We have a dear old boy who lives near us who seems to spend hours just sitting on a deckchair outside his house, watching the world go by, and then about 5pm he goes for a walk around the local area, just seeing what has happened. He’s been having a field day with us lately as we have been fixing our front fence.. if only my Portuguese was up to following everything he tells us.. we’re starting to get the gist of some of it now though! But I do think he’s got it cracked, sitting there quite patiently enjoying the world around him (and giving out a few pointers on fencing every now and then!) One of my aims from now on is going to be finding as many benches as I can to sit on for a while! It certainly seems to be a Portuguese tradition
This one in Portimao is a favourite – it’s very near to the ice cream shop too!
One other quite sad thing that I am enjoying is hanging out my washing in the sun! My record so far is drying four loads of washing in one afternoon! We lived in a flat with no garden for so long.. and now we have a washing line! It’s slightly more sophisticated than some here in Portugal though, as we have seen many lines of washing hung out like this:
There are also gorgeous sunsets to enjoy – and we have the most amazing view from our kitchen window:
The sunshine also makes everything seem more possible, it allows dreams to grow, and ideas to take hold. I’m inspired by this quote by Louisa May Alcott:
“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead”.
So I shall continue to be like a little sunflower, sitting on a bench, turning my face into the sun and dreaming a while… and shall also probably continue to annoy all our friends with our constant updates on how warm and sunny it is out here at the moment!