Approaching the Solstice

A foggy, quiet morning during an unusually dry June. We need rain and there is little in the forecast. The birds are noticeably quieter now, save for the house sparrows who talk among themselves ceaselessly.

Saturday marks the summer solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere. Morning light now fills the deck on the north side of our home, encouraging the tomatoes and other container veggies to grow; they have responded enthusiastically and we are enjoying the slowly growing bounty. It is difficult to believe that by Sunday the sun’s annual pendulum will begin to arc south and the days will shorten.

Somehow I have managed not to post for over a week. I remain in a sort of pandemic time warp in which each day floats along with only minimal connection to those on either side. Being at high risk, I am reluctant to jump back into the reopened world. I carefully consider the implications of each and every potential activity; I will visit the dentist out of necessity but am less enthused about the barber, no matter how much I want a trim.

A couple of evenings back we went for a walk across the bridge in the village. Frustratingly, few people wore masks, although most noticed our masks and my crutches and gave us the needed wide birth. A few small pods of young people, sans masks, walked briskly past us on the narrow sidewalk, a bit too close for comfort.

Along the way we caught sight of a seagull attacking and drowning another bird, before beginning to feast on the remains. I imagine the victim was an immature seabird; we could not see it clearly. Seagulls have been known to drag pigeons into the brink and drown them, and we have plenty of pigeons down at the marina.

There was something disturbing about the scene, perhaps simply the reminder that we all kill in order to live. The victim struggled and fought to no avail, and after several minutes lay quiet upon the seagull’s wavy table. Not far from us another couple watched the drama in rapt attention. We have become used to watching death on video but there is something very different about it in real time and in person.

In our human world the virus continues to kill at an alarming rate even as many are drawn into the illusion of a carefree summer. We  witness with rage and grief the disproportionate impacts of the virus on our Native communities, and other systems impacted groups, the playing out of racism, genocide, and ableism on an almost unthinkable scale. Even as the virus rages on, largely unaddressed, we speak about a second wave, the specter of a possibly fierce return overlapping with the fading light of autumn.

Yet, we continue. As we approach the solstice we acknowledge Nature in her full exuberance. Innumerable beings come into life and incalculable beings die. This is Nature as Kali, generous and wrathful, fecund and violent, Kali/Lilith birthing and destroying at a ferocious pace. She is Pachamama in all Her complexity, She who gives and takes life. Her statue stands on my mesa, the shamans’ goddess of India.

The harvest and winter are not that far off now. For the moment we bask in the sun’s bright warmth, the songs of the birds, and the luxuriant greening of the world. Come the solstice we will give thanks to the sun, Pachamama, and the Creator for our lives and the great joy of witnessing Creation. Then the Earth will turn on Her axis and those of us in the Northern Hemisphere will begin the journey towards winter’s rest. A lot will happen between now and November, but that is the stuff of our human stories and we are but the briefest of beloved moments in Nature’s long long life.


2 thoughts on “Approaching the Solstice

  1. Animals behave fairly consistently. They act and suffer. It’s inevitable. Preys try to protect themselves, but predators continue hunting. It seems that the prey doesn’t learn.
    Man has learned, with more or less success, more or less conscience. But there is one thing that is obvious: most men have forgotten they have a soul. Yet it’s something that makes the difference between humans and animals.
    I say that, but sometimes I doubt …

    1. Colette,
      Yes, sometimes I too wonder whether we know much about nurturing our souls. In most Indigenous cultures folks have traditionally believed that all beings have souls. That view makes life much more a series of moral choices with real consequences.

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