Thursday, June 27, 2019

A Tale of Two Summers ... by Catriona

Life: Here comes the summer! Are summers a distinct stretch of the year for you? What's this one got in store?

I really do have two summers. The first one, June and July, is at home in California, where the temperature climbs into triple digits, the grass turns yellow and crunchy, the watermelon is 10c a pound at the farm stand and I frantically try to get two books edited and handed over to my agent.

I love this summer. It's sunny every day - and that still feels like a miracle to a Scot, even after nine years. The fourth of July happens, with fireworks when it's not even raining. My anniversary is mid-summer day and we usually go up to Oregon and see something at the Shakespeare Festival. And even when it's stinking hot in the daytime, at night the Bay breeze rolls up the valley bringing cool air along with the sunset, so that we can lie on the still-warm ground and look up at the stars. Living in the sticks means we can see the Milky Way. Not too shabby

Of course, by the time August rolls around and there's going to be no rain for another two months, Summer No.1 begins to pall.

Garden pond, with wee cow sulking 
But that's when I get really lucky and embark on Summer No. 2.

That summer is at home in Scotland, in the cool drizzle with the odd nice day. I bomb around in my tiny hire car, changing gear on single-track roads throughout the most desolate bits of Scotland, researching book settings, with BBC R4 for company. I eat every example of meat encased in pastry that the resourceful Scots have ever invented, plus a fair few fish suppers too. And I get to see my old friends, friends I've had for twenty, thirty, forty years, not to mention parents, sisters, nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and sometimes (like this year) a bump 'n' scan pic.

This year I've got two new publishers to meet, a book to launch, and my favourite city in the whole world (sorry, New York) to soak into my pores, all the way to my bones, for another year.

Edinburgh in the summer is a wee bit insane. "The Festival" - actually three contemporaneous festivals: the official festival, the Fringe Festival, and (most importantly) THE BOOK FESTIVAL YAYYYYY - is the largest arts jamboree in the world. It affects parking. It affects everything. Earlier today, I booked a table for lunch on the 27th of August at 1pm, and got the message in bold red "we need this table back by 2.30". I love it!

Come September, things calm down a bit. But not a lot. Because September is when Bloody Scotland kicks off in Stirling. This year, I'm on a panel with Vaseem Khan and Lynne Truss. Details and tickets here. As well as that, I'll be seeing old pals, making new ones, I bet, and taking part in a torchlight procession. The good kind.

And then it's back home to California, where the sun will still be shining.

Hey - if you need a blast of summer and you live in Sacramento, check this out later today. I'll be at Capital Books with Cindy Sample and Kristi Abbott (Eileen Rendahl), two of the sunniest sorts you'll ever meet, talking summer reading.


Dietrich Kalteis said...

Have a great two summers, Catriona.

Finta said...

Looking forward to seeing you in Dallas in October. Get ready for your third summer. Xox. Ann

Keith Raffel said...

Why not BBC Radio Scotland?

Kathy Reel said...

Your two summers sound perfect! Please share pics of your Scotland summer and, of course, Bloody Scotland.

Susan C Shea said...

Yes, you do have the best of two worlds, and deserve every bit of that.

Cathy Ace said...

Enjoy both summers