I love the old saying “may hay while the sun shines”. It harkens back to the days of manual agriculture with large teams of men scything hay in the fields but waiting until the warm and hot days of summer to cut and stack the crop lest it turn damp and rot away. Without accurate weather forecasting it would have been a harvest which was anticipated and hoped for but couldn’t be planned specifically until conditions were perfect. The farmer and the labourers wouldn’t know weather was perfect until they woke on the day itself. In my minds eye I see people calling to each other, drop your plans, today it is hay day, get a move on, pack a lunch, we’re heading to the fields, hurry up this is urgent, move it, got your kit, right, let’s go. Then the shire horse would trundle into the field pulling the cart which would receive the harvest and the men folk and maybe some women would begin and finish while she sun shone. It all rested on being ready to go as soon as the call came through and being willing to throw your back in to the work.
The British tolerate changeable weather for much of the year. The location of the British Isles falls under the convergence of several weather systems. There could be clear and blue skied days in the deepest part of winter, there could be hazy cloud cover on summer days. Rarely is there a predictable weather pattern where snow or sun could be accurately anticipated. The Brits wake each day and look out the window.
Brits make hay while the sun shines. It is their defining characteristic. I have never seen nor heard of towns and cities coming alive so quickly as a British town experiencing a surprise warm spell or a snow flurry. It is comparable to flowers blooming in the desert after rain. It is extraordinary, exciting and beautiful. Plans are hastily made, friends visit with friends, people go out for al fresco lunch, laughter can be heard all around. British people endure tepid weather well in the hope and anticipation of a hay making week here or there and when it happens they really go for it, they completely go to town. These occasional weeks or days here and there are enough to tide them over until the next time they can be overtly joyful. While not perhaps being the first thing one thinks of when considering the attributes of British folks, I think this quiet resolve to enjoy where they are despite the conditions and to be joyful when the conditions finally become temporarily perfect is something which should be noted and held dear.