Chrissie Swan: 'My top five signs of summer'
"The first mango of the season is devoured in a kind of ceremony. By the end of January, I'm selecting only the ones that are pungent with ripeness" ... Chrissie Swan
Everyone has their own definition of what summer means to them. I mean, everyone knows the weather gets hotter and the shirtsleeves get shorter. Most of us will do an inordinate amount of shopping, most of us will have some time off, and nearly all of us will crack open our first lemonade iceblock of the year. But apart from those sorts of things, the ways in which our behaviour changes in the months from December to February are strangely personal.
Here are the top five things that are synonymous with summer for me:
Nothing sends kids crazier than sudden hot weather they're not used to
Pants are a no-go for me in summer. They're just too hot. But the downside to this is enough friction with each step to light a fire. My thighs seem to resemble sausages the minute I turn that calendar page from November to December. I've actually been tempted to stay up late on November 30 with a torch under my doona so I can watch the metamorphosis as it occurs. I've mentioned this before on my radio show and was quickly put in touch with an underwear company called, ingeniously enough, Chafe Busters. I'm yet to use anything from their range, instead opting for 90 days of walking around like John Wayne from about 2pm each day. Summer is so sexy at my place. Pass me the talc.
They start appearing like juicy misshapen eggs a bit before summer and my whole local fruit shop smells of them, so I know they're in season before I can even see them. By December I can buy them by the box, quite cheaply, and my staple diet shifts. It is possible, however, to eat too many, and I've sported mango face-burn and ... errrm ... downstairs-burn, too ... on more than one occasion. I get blasé about them eventually. The first mango of the season is devoured in a kind of ceremony. Slowly and reverently, I slice the cheeks, and score them until I can pop them up from the skin into neat little dewy cubes. The seed gets a good 10 minutes of its own. By the end of January, I'm selecting only the ones that are pungent with ripeness and if I get tired of it midway I just cast it off, like Ozzy Osbourne tossing away the body of a bat after he's torn its head off. Next!
3. Hobbit feet
Contrary to popular belief, there are very few freebies in the world of radio and TV any more. However, two years ago I did get a gorgeous pair of very expensive white-and-gold sandals from a photo shoot, and I was champing at the bit for the weather to get better so I could give them another run. Last week was the perfect time! So I fossicked into the back of my wardrobe, pushing aside my everyday boots and the pair of wedge heels I wear when I want to emulate a transsexual. I popped the sandals on. Then put them back and toughed it out in my aforementioned boots because ... did someone say Bilbo Baggins? Lurking in my winter boots all year were not actual feet, but instead two cracked and dry-skin-covered paddles resembling feet, with a little bit of chipped nail polish clinging to every second toenail. Note to self: book a pedicure in November every year, and call ahead so their orbital sander is fully charged.
4. Loco children
Nothing sends kids crazier than sudden hot weather they're not used to. Add to that a bit of daylight-saving action and you've got a surefire recipe for The Bad Seed. My kids are usually bathed, smelling delicious and tucked in by 6.30pm. But in summer? Forget it. On the first super-hot day this year my one-year-old was still toddling around at 9.30pm. Strange sounds came out of his slack little mouth and there was nothing his father or I could do but marvel at how his hitherto straight hair had curled up, and how he had miraculously mastered the art of clapping, scooting on his bottom and saying "Na na" all at the same time. In the end, we just waited until his batteries ran out.
I am particularly sun-smart. My mother slathered us with sunblock in the '70s, which I'm sure involved ordering the cream from overseas as other Aussie families happily played on the beach completely unprotected, like ants under a magnifying glass. Not us. We had the works. Hats, zinc and 15+, which was the highest you could get in those days. Sure, Mum was using baby oil, but we kids had creamy armour on. So when I talk about burns I don't mean sunburn. I mean burns. In the kitchen. Because I am nude and cooking. The latest spots I'm applying pawpaw ointment to are on my tummy, because I cooked salmon three days ago in the nicky-noo-na and some water got in with the olive oil and – BOOM! Splatters of lava-hot oil all over me. Friends, that signalled the end of my career as a bikini model. Which is okay, as I generally swim in the nude as well. Like a plus-size mermaid.
I do love summer. But I reserve the right, after a few hot days in a row, to start whingeing about how I'd kill for a bowl of soup and an open fireplace. And then I'll have another mango and I'll forget I was ever over it in the first place.
This article first appeared in Sunday Life.