‘I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer’ – F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby.
The season of summer has arrived suddenly to Beijing. It jumped straight from 10 degrees and still requiring two plus layers to 30 degrees and jeans being unbearable. And with each week it gets a little hotter. Come June and 30 degrees will be a standard day. Friends and colleagues have already warned me of the close, humid air that means a spare t-shirt is often required in your backpack.I love summer. I love the warm air and floaty clothes. I love the beach and the tanning and the beer gardens. Essentially I love a summer that Beijing is unable to provide. Though hot, the air is still polluted and with pollution comes less sun and no desire to be spending excessive time outside. Generally this is not an issue to the Chinese. They have a firm dislike to the sun, predominantly because it turns their skin brown. Being brown is not the desire of the Chinese – unlike the orange glow we all strive for in the west. At restaurants and cafes and parks the tables left free are those in the sun. They still wear jeans and long sleeved tops. Umbrellas come out to be used as parasols and every excuse is used to be able to sit indoors. This reaction to summer is so unfamiliar to me I still can’t comprehend it. I find every reason to play outside with my class, and at weekends once I’m out of the flat I do not plan on returning until evening hits. Though the air cools slightly at night, you can still wear shorts and a vest without becoming chilly. I recently read an article that stated that this year summer has arrived significantly earlier. Apparently this is the first time this century Beijing has hit 30 degrees as early as April. The last time the capital experienced these kind of temperatures was last August – the height of summer.After the seriously cold winter Beijing had, I am more than ready to embrace the sunglasses and freckles weather!