Earth and Sky are Dancing – Summer Solstice 2017

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Below Richardson Hill, Willow Brook Watershed, mid-June 2017

And so the year’s Wheel has spun us gently from Winter’s cold and darkness through Spring’s gradually-lengthening days to June, sweet June. The Sun rose in the Solstice skies at 5:24 this morning, though with Richardson Hill to my east it was nearly 7 before its first rays touched the tree tops here at Lightspring Glen and shafts of golden light began to flicker down into the woods. The huge cumulus clouds sailing past are offering their counterpoint to the long, languorous hours of Grandfather Sun’s light on this Summer Solstice day. Tomorrow will be nearly the same as the sun-stands-still in the sky. Our ancestors knew this phenomena well and celebrated its annual return with fires and fine celebration.

For 21st century folks, especially those of us in the Northeast, Grandfather Sun’s warmth and light is being all the more savored this year after an often dreary and chilly Spring. Winter jackets were a necessity off and on well into May. We can be forgiven if we grumbled. (And for many the unsettling news of the larger world made for a tiring, dispiriting slog many a-day.)

A consolation in those months was the abundance of bloom in our gardens, roadsides, and meadows as spring flowers lingered well beyond their usual time, their colors all the more stunning against the gray. And the spring peepers had quite the long season, perhaps a record one, of night-time chorusing in their over-filled ponds and wetlands (which just maybe they liked a lot!). But Spring’s migration went on as it always does bringing our wonderful feathered-residents home for a new season of nesting. Grandmother Moon waxed and waned no matter what was going on down here at eye-level, with June’s full moon, the Rose Moon, particularly splendid. Such comfort in this ceaseless solar / lunar pas de deux.

I am pleased beyond the telling to be celebrating my fourth Summer Solstice here at Lightspring Glen. The fields and woods are bustling, bursting with life as the season’s Green Fire ripples through the valleys and hills. Not far from the porch where I sit pondering and reaching for quick-silver thoughts for this post, the song sparrow is offering his upbeat notes, and farther back in the woods the ovenbird insists again, “Teacher! Teacher! Teacher!” Last night when I turned out my bedside light, a firefly winked at me through the screen and lured me out of the house into the earth-scented dark of the back yard. Like so much else this year, the fireflies are in abundant number and so I was treated to a magnificent dance of flickering, golden patterns against the wood’s darkness, the silvery cascade of the waterfall and stream brimming with the day’s showers providing the perfect accompaniment.

By Friday, the moon will have come to its dark time, the New Moon in Cancer gliding unseen through our day-time skies. Then over the next few evenings, reappearing magically in its glistening crescent, the cycle begins anew. Though the daylight hours will start their inevitable decreasing not long after, for long weeks the Summer sun will reign, ripening our gardens and shoring up our spirits and hopes. This year more than ever, we so need to feel and be embraced by the rhythm of this seasonal, grace-full pulse, the Wheel of the Year lumbering all slowly, steadily, and reassuringly on.

On this notably pagan-inclined day, (Stonehenge was humming and thrumming just hours ago) these words to close: So Mote It Be.

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Lady Slipper, Lightspring Glen

 

 

 

April, come she will

DSCN5547When I woke yesterday, the first day of April, it was to light snow falling, the ground, trees, and woods once more arrayed in lacy-white. Here in these Catskill foothills, we’ve only recently emerged from the remnants of the Blizzard-named-Stella of three weeks ago that paralyzed a good deal of the Mid-Atlantic and New England for several days. Already quite Winter-weary, it was hard to keep from being discouraged at this newly-imposed, longer wait for Spring. There was a frustratingly slow dwindling of the several feet of snow. Finally by the end of last week rain reduced the snow drifts lingering around my house to only a few dirty white piles and in the woods the snow blanket showed signs of tattering at last. And then near dark on Thursday I opened the door to let the cat in and was greeted by the unmistakable notes of a robin tentatively offering his Spring song. I gasped with delight and hurried down the steps to hear it more clearly as it called twice more and then a last time. I breathed in the magic of it deeply, the first Robin-song of the year.

But as a friend said yesterday, “Spring will not be denied much longer!” Bright blue skies reign this Sunday afternoon, and the moving waters of the many streams and rippling ponds of Lightspring Glen are everywhere sparkling in the sunshine. And as I rose yesterday morning it was to Simon and Garfunkel singing in my Inner Ear, “April, come she will / when streams are ripe and swelled with rain…”, a song I had not thought of in a very long while.

I have always been delighted with my country-life where there are four such distinct Seasons. In the interest of full disclosure, the rigors of Winter sometimes seem more demanding as the years move along. But I will never tire of this inevitable, magical shift from Winter to Spring and how it brings rejoicing…re-joy-cing…as the Earth warms and life quickens once more.

A few days before Stella arrived in her snowy fierceness, news reached me of the passing of the poet, Derek Walcott. He left us on March 17th at the age of 87. His poems have touched my life at several points with their singular and beautiful messages. In the tributes I read that weekend I discovered one new to me. It feels a perfect tribute both to him and to this always-wondrous and mesmerizing turning of the Wheel of the Year.

Earth

Let the day grow on you upward
through your feet,
the vegetal knuckles,

to your knees of stone,
until by evening you are a black tree;
feel, with evening,

the swifts thicken your hair,
the new moon rising out of your forehead,
and the moonlit veins of silver

running from your armpits
like rivulets under white leaves.
Sleep, as ants

cross over your eyelids.
You have never possessed anything
as deeply as this.

This is all you have owned
from the first outcry
through forever;

you can never be dispossessed.

~ Derek Walcott ~
January 23, 1930 – March 17, 2017
(Sea Grapes)