The sun shines bright on this Solstice morning. It seems to be a rare occasion these days, so I gather all the sun up into my heart and soul and proceed with this day. How perfect, I think, that the sun shines on Solstice.
The early morning is a great time to gather thoughts with a stroll around the garden. It is still a bit soggy, but with the bright sun it is sure to dry out. The grass is the color of emeralds with dew and day lilies just need a little coaxing to bloom.
No, I am not at Stonehenge, although I know what is happening there on this moment of Solstice. This year the crowd is expected to reach 10,000 as folks come to celebrate and watch the peeping of the early morning sun through the crack in the formation. Stonehenge is also a celebration of the Late Neoliths. It is now known they celebrated this first day of summer as early as 2,800 B.C. It must have been quite scary in those days wondering how long summer would last … would winter come back … would it just keep getting hotter?
Ireland has its own celebration with Newgrange. When I visited, it was not the Solstice but 12 folks a day were permitted in with an assimilation for the Solstice. I was one of the lucky ones. As I walked through on either side of me were remnants of ancient burial grounds. It was a magnificent experience.
My Solstice today is shared with Abe and Kristin’s four children ... Holly, Brianna, Faith and Noah. The parents left for a week (they went somewhere? Jamaica? Fremont?). My days are filled with laundry and cooking and stories and music and chasing 2-year old toddlers. It is a once-a-year opportunity for me to keep children up until midnight, eat chocolate pudding for supper, and read books ’til they beg to go to sleep!
This year I have them on the Solstice which is one of my favorite days of the year. We have been preparing for days! Last night we read about the old Scandinavian custom of the bonfires. It was predicted that if you danced around the bonfire you would marry within the year. Holly is 12 and Brianna is 9, and I am not saying my age! We all decided we would not do any dancing around the bonfire. “But we are too young to marry!” they both said!! “And I am too old!” I replied back.
Their day starts with a two-hour adventure with Uncle Aaron to Friendship Park. I stay back to be the maid … cleaning, scrubbing, washing! Kathy Vaughn has been my back up maid, but she decided to fly off to Austin, Texas, for the Solstice.
At precisely 11:54 a.m., the exact moment of Solstice, we sprinkle my collected rose petals in the garden for the faeries. My own children did this when they were younger. I have to laugh! When they were teenagers and worked at Bob Evans, they told the manager they had to go home to sprinkle rose petals for their mom and have a Solstice celebration. They always made it just in time. Now I celebrate with their children.
By 1 p.m., the babies are tucked away for naps, and just in time for us to make chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles for our party. We put on our Solstice dresses to be a bit fancy!
After a dinner of tacos (that sounds like a good Solstice dinner, yes?), we head back outside and read A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare. Okay, we don’t read the whole play, but the last speech by Puck.” The girls don’t understand Shakespeare yet, but they are quiet and respectful as I read. Then Holly wants to read it, and I love hearing her voice echo those words. Nice, I think, very nice!
With the babies finally read to (of course!) and tucked in, we head outside to light our bonfire of Solstice. We wear flowers in our hair and long trailing scarves to look like princesses or faeries. We also remember not to dance!! Watching the embers reach the stars, I reflect on the beauty of this day. With rose petals and cupcakes and stories and the bonfire, this day ends, as it began, with magic.
They beg for sleep, and I tuck them in covering them up with their great-great grandmother’s quilts.
I fall asleep in the darkness and the sound of four little grandchildren sleeping away in this old house.