From picture book dream team Jane Godwin and Alison Lester, Sing Me the Summer is a love letter to the seasons and a celebration of the time spent with family in the great outdoors. Here, Jane shares some of her favourite childhood memories of summer.
When I was a child, my grandparents had a very basic holiday house in Rosebud, on the Mornington Peninsula.
Although it was the 1970s, the milk was still delivered by horse and cart in Rosebud, and every morning we would wait on the fence, listening out for the clip-clop of the horse. Occasionally the milkman would even give us a ride up the street.
The house had a huge willow tree, with branches that hung down to the ground. Every summer my siblings and I would plan to sleep all night under the tree. We’d drag out blankets and sheets, other bits and pieces of anything we could find, and make a kind of cubby under the tree. I don’t think we ever made it through the night, we always ended up inside soon after it got dark.
We also had ‘shops’ that we set up on the street, selling all the weird bits of crockery and ornaments that had gathered at the beach house over the fifty years my family had owned it. I don’t remember many customers, but this didn’t seem to bother us!
We’d swim at the local Rosebud beach, where the water never seemed to get deep. I could pretend that I could really swim by moving through the shallow water but with each ‘freestyle’ stroke, my hands could touch the sand. Our dad used to lift us into other people’s boats that were moored there, and we’d pretend to drive them.
We’d play beach cricket, and sometimes we’d get in the car and drive to one of the surf beaches. Diamond Bay, near Sorrento, was our favourite. I don’t know if it was because no-one knew about it then, but my memory is that we were always the only people on the beach when we went there.
Growing up, we also lived for a couple of years in Brisbane. (We were there during the 1974 floods.) Most weekends, we would all hop in the Ford Fairlane (no seatbelts) and Dad would drive to Broadbeach where we would spend all day in the surf. As an adult returning to the Gold Coast beaches, I find the waves and the undertow a bit daunting, but back then I had no fear. We would body surf, or use surf mats, and catch huge waves. Afterwards we went to a beer garden and had hamburgers. Coming from Melbourne in the 1970s, I had no idea what a beer garden was and I found the whole thing very exotic.
Throughout this year I’ve really missed being in the natural world, and since Melbourne’s lockdown ended I’ve cherished the little things like putting my feet in the ocean again. I’m looking forward to spending time with my family in some of our special places this summer and making some more precious memories.
Thanks to Jane Godwin for sharing her photos with us.