Summer has settled in here in Vermont. The world is magnificently green. The lake (Lake Champlain) has finally fallen below flood stage for the first time in two months. The trees and other vegetation have come fully into their own, taking sufficient water from a very saturated water table to reduce the flow into the lake. The gardens are mostly in, and promising to become lush in a few weeks. A few farmers have actually completed the first haying! The black flies were about when I took a stroll this morning. Our early summer perennials have flowered and gone by. The cat, our local weather person, goes out early in the morning, comes in for lunch, and maybe a nap, and returns in the late evening, even on rainy days.
Tomorrow is the Summer Solstice. Wednesday, the days begin to shorten, although evenings lengthen by a few seconds for a few more days. We will stop at some point tomorrow and acknowledge the progression of the year. If we have the time, and the mosquitoes are not to bad, we may have a fire in the back yard. (In the evening we have a local community meeting to discuss how to address the flood damage to our cliff face and beach.)
Although the Summer Solstice, as the name suggests, takes place in summer, it prefigures the winter. Come December, the Winter Solstice will return the favor, although, somehow, it seems much easier to imagine the cold of winter than the reverse. We also tend to forget that the season deepens for several weeks following a solstice. Be it heat or cold, the solstice opens the door to the full season.
This morning the radio weather person was speaking about how folks were already feeling glum about the passing summer. He noted this as premature, given summer in Vermont lasts til early September. The truth is that even after that, we are likely to have long spells of fine weather into much of October.
I’ve had an upper respiratory infection that has persisted for much of the spring. Having had Bulbar Polio, such infections are suspect, if not downright dangerous. Bulbar attacks the brain stem, and motor neurons that control voluntary functions, including breathing. As one ages, the surviving neurons, many weakened by the virus, age prematurely. Given that I was in the iron lung, if only for about a week, I am at significant risk for respiratory problems, so must be somewhat vigilant, which in turn, reminds me that I am indeed mortal.
I, being in my 60’s, am aware that my time on the planet is limited. Of course, that is true for all of us. Still, age matters, and in one’s 60’s, one can easily imagine one’s allotted time coming to an end. Native peoples in North America, as do people who live close to the cycles of nature everywhere, tend to see the complexity of things, noting, for instance, the birth of Winter in the midst of Summer. Many nations believe in reincarnation, accepting the logic that since death is implied by birth, the opposite may well be true. Lately, I am given to thinking that although we may not all have had other lives here, on this beautiful planet Earth, this Pachamama, we likely all came here from somewhere. Now, in this time of great planetary need, souls seem to be arriving from all over, to give whatever aid they can.
So here we are, at the Summer Solstice, looking towards Winter. When we get to the Winter Solstice, we shall look towards the coming Summer. In noting this turning of the year, we are reminded of the great ritual dramas of our lives, and the lives of our peoples. We are reminded that ascendency inevitably yields decline, and that all that is threatened, in some way returns. This great mysterious miracle allows life on this beautiful green-blue planet. As Grandfather Sun begins his journey to the south, bringing Summer to our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, may we find some small wisdom in this turning, and be humbled and grateful before the Great Mystery.
Blessings to you at this Summer Solstice.