Somehow it’s already the Summer Solstice (in the northern hemisphere), when traditions prompt us to celebrate midsummer‘s fertility with festivals and bonfires. Earth’s rotational axis on this day tilts at its greatest incline toward the star that it orbits – our sun. It is the year’s longest day and shortest night.
Usually, fall and winter are where my sympathies lie: the cool, dark, and damp. But summer enchants me. The sheer gorgeousness of nature in its fecundity. The nonchalance of birds daily chasing down bugs and beetles. And such birds! Towhees, chickadees, white-crowned sparrows; the dance of cedar waxwings as they wait and swoop in turn down to the birdbath, wings fluttering amidst countless burgeoning blossoms. Every flower has beauty, but often I forget the startling forms of the more humble blooms sprouting from plants that feed us, like onions and artichokes. In the process of growing, these remarkable organisms turn sunlight into their own nutrients through photosynthesis, flower, pollinate by bees and other pollinators, and go to seed. Thus begins again nature’s constant cycle of rejuvenation.
Currently there’s much sadness in the world: suicide in the news, some dear friends’ personal struggles. I’m constantly reminded of my mother’s painful battle with mental illness, and her strength in persevering through it, not only to survive but to teach me to take succor in nature. I imagine how she might have drawn comfort from the joy of gardening on a cool, rainy day when plants can benefit from soft rainwater; the smell of soil and the feel of digging fingers into it; of turning rich compost crawling with worms, ready to nourish plantings. It is she who taught me gratitude for such moments, for having loved ones to share this with, and it is her memory I share it with every day. Happy Solstice!