Mother Nature can play this island a merry tune, and she can be quite heartless when she tries. However, these past few weeks her mood swings have lifted, and she has seen fit to favour us with her dazzling smile, granting the welcome kiss of summer to our shore. My two eldest arrive hastily back from school to pack up their swim suits and towels, I mean, after all, who can resist the allure of an impromptu beach party or BBQ?
It is amazing when the sun waves her wand.
The greenhouse and the garden are burgeoning with produce, It's necessary to harvest the cherries, peas, tomatoes and lettuce daily now. Those peas never make it to the stove - we try, we really do, but they are simply too good to deny being eaten as shelled, raw, sweet and fresh.
I am delighted with the cherry crop this year, it seems since transplanting it to the greenhouse, it's us, as opposed to the birds, who get to it first. Our little pear tree is still in it's infancy, but I have hopes it still may bear fruit before the summer is out.
It's too early for the raspberries and blackberries yet, but the redcurrants will soon be ready to turn into sauce.
And, despite all four children picking a bowl at breakfast each morn, we can't keep up with the strawberries - I must turn some over to jam this coming week.
Our corn is also growing nicely, it will only be a few weeks 'til we can (weather permitting) toss them on to our own BBQ soon.
But try as I might, I find the only thing the gooseberries are good for is to mix them in with either rhubarb or apples, or maybe some other berry or two, to bake them up in to a pie or tart. I don't suppose any of you out there might have any other (polite) suggestions as to what else I might do with them?
The peaches, one of my favourite fruits, are almost always eaten fresh from the tree.
We also have several varieties of apple trees, some good for eating, some only for cooking - they shall ripen soon - the yield is always far too heavy to consume by ourselves, and much as we try we never quite mange to give away the surplus. I try to keep up by making sauce and jam with part of the over spill.
We are blessed with two varieties of plum, but because they only bear fruit bi-annually this works out quite well (I am happy to report both types are equally as succulent and delicious). Exceedingly versatile, they can be eaten fresh, turned into jam or chutney, or even served baked with a blend of other fruits to turn out whatever current recipe is the order of the day.
Our crop of new potatoes are the sweetest yet this year - there is nothing so tasty as plucking them fresh from the earth to drop straight in the pot. All needed is a knob of butter for instant heaven!
I keep threatening to turn the grapes to wine, perhaps this year I might get around to it - we'll see. They are edible enough, but seeded, and so therefore less popular with the children. Supermarkets have a lot to answer for (it took me years to convince my brood apples don't necessarily need to be perfectly round for eating).
We now have cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and asparagus shooting up, not to mention all the wonderful lush herbs by the bay leaf tree, that are ripe for the picking. It's my herb garden that gives me the most pleasure, I love the scents and the flavours they bring. Come the winter, I move them in their pots to the conservatory, ensuring a year round supply.
Even down by the glen, the salmon and trout are happily jumping in the river (though I prefer to leave the lone grey heron to harvest those) Were we threatened by famine, and were I less squeamish, our glen is now rampant in grouse and pheasant for the taking, not to mention all those rabbits that come out to dance at dusk (it's a joy to watch them).
This scene underfoot here will soon transform from it's present green to a bright orange carpet of display. Thousands of wildflowers (of which the actual name of escapes me for the moment) will light up the glen and fill the wood in their resplendent colour.
Most of the bluebells have given up their blossoms now, but the glen is often alight with whatever the changing season brings; come the Winter there will be snowdrops just about everywhere, and ample red berries will grace the holly, armloads of which will deck out our house come Christmastime.
(There are also endless collections of mushrooms and toadstools down here, but as I can't tell a poisonous from a magic (of which I am told there are many), to an edible one, I leave it to the wiser trespasser to hunt out which is what.)
But it is right now, right here at the height of summer, when the grounds preen at their glorious best, and our flower beds, bushes and trees are all dressed in their finest splendour, when the birds are singing long and loud to the background hum of those gorging, gathering bumble bees, yes it is here, right in this moment that for me all is (be it ever so briefly) so perfectly right and good in my world.
Those coming days when the north wind howls and the icy storms twist deep down to the bone, it's this moment I shall unbottle, recall the sun, the rich, earthy smell of our spent summer crops, and find soothing comfort in the promise that everything has it's recurrent season. Much as I may mourn the passing of the hot, long summer days, by nature of it's cycle, winter too, however harsh, draws to a close.
Good times, bad times - none last forever.
Regardless of how far ahead she may be hiding, isn't it wonderful to know there always lies Summer, just waiting in the wings?