If there is one thing that says ‘summer holiday’ to me …it has to be the siesta. Taking the time to find a place in the shade of a tree, or in the cool of a bedroom with the shutters pulled too, is totally delicious. To retire with a good book, turn a few pages and offer no resistance as sleep takes hold of me, is a pleasure that I savour. To doze, even it is for a short while, with the gentle background singing of birds or the cicadas, chirping in the trees is the most beneficial sort of rest that I know.
In my husband’s family home in a small mountain village of Corsica, the pace of life is never frantic. The old stone village is on a mountain side, beside the river. Chores are taken care of in the morning, and the evenings are long and sociable, but during the afternoon when temperatures peak a stillness descends upon the village as neighbours sit beneath the chestnut trees and talk in whispers, or disappear into their house for a few hours.
The siesta is taken quite seriously in the education system too. When my children started nursery school here, I was surprised to find a pillow and blanket on the list of school supplies. But for the first two years of their schooling a sleep after lunch was obligatory, the whole class lying down in a quiet dormitory beside the classroom. Each child on a small mattress, and possibly in the company of a favorite teddy bear.
So while I know that there are many parts of the world where the summers are sweltering, I just wonder how widespread the taste for a siesta really is. Do you think that in today’s super busy world, it is unrealistic to take half an hour out after lunch. Putting it plainly; how often do you surrender to the pleasures of the siesta?
The beautiful illustration is a painting called The Siesta, by Frederick Arthur Bridgman