My Summer Solstice

solsticeI am typing this on June 17th as the rain gently taps a summer melody on the pavement outside the open window. It is humid and warm in spite of the rain. It is midsummer, almost.

Midsummer, time of the longest days and the shortest nights. Time of socializing on long summer nights and of celebrations. Time of change, too. The midsummer solstice has been celebrated in many cultures for many centuries. There were many reasons to celebrate, I am sure. But I am wondering about the reasons we may have now to celebrate this time of year.

For us here in Canada there are some clear outward reasons:

  • We have made it through another winter, another spring. Summer is here for a short and yet often very intensive time.
  • For children and their parents this is the time of summer holidays: families spend more time together, outdoor activities offer opportunities to bond over fun activities, and often the annual vacation falls into these few months.
  • Summer brings the opportunity to do all those outside chores that we have been thinking about for the last few months.
  • Summer also allows us to connect to nature again through outdoor activities like hiking and swimming, kayaking and biking, camping and gardening, or simply lying in the grass and watching clouds go by.

Summer draws us out of the house and out of our shells. We reconnect with friends over ice cream or coffee. Gatherings are easier when they are done in the yard and sunshine and warmth lift the spirits of most people. Like nature, we seem to expand with the summer sun.

But Midsummer is a time of change. It is the moment when the days start getting shorter again. Sunshine and warmth will be with us for two or three or even four more months; but the long summer nights are slowly getting shorter.

With that comes a change in quality of Mother Nature’s costume. Where in spring and early summer she dressed in lavish colours, a hundred hues of green, and outrageous gowns of flowers, she now begins to tone down her apparel. The greens seem to melt into a small handful of colours: dark green, silver green, deep green. The flowers become fewer, but slowly fruits and vegetables begin to add colour to her dress: the reds of apples and cherries, the blues of plums and blueberries, the yellows of peaches and corn.

Life, like Mother Nature, slows down in the hot and lazy days of deep summer following the summer solstice. Things that have been started earlier in the year are now ripening. Life isn’t as hurried but it goes deeper in a way. Yet, the depth is different from the depth of winter; it lacks the intensity, the life-changing plunge into our own darkness.

The depth of summer is a depth of relationships and connections, of letting things come to fruition, of allowing time for life. If winter pulls us inward, summer pulls us out: out into the world, out into our communities, out into our lives. Until fall we have the chance to deepen those relationships, fall ever more comfortably into them, foster them with ease. If we succeed, we will have help with our harvest and preparations in fall, and support and loving care throughout the darkness of winter.

The midsummer solstice reminds me of all this and so it is, too me, the celebration of friendship, relationships, belonging, ease of life, and joy of being. It is the celebration that reminds me to take life slower, be more appreciative of the small (and yet so big) gifts I am presented with every day: the sky above, clean water, lush trees, a safe home, loving friends, a healthy and working body, good food, fresh air. It is, in short, a celebration of life.

Happy Midsummer Solstice to you all,