I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Quote. Act ii. Scene.1
Today, for those of you who might be unaware, marks the first day of Summer. This isn’t an arbitrary day, or a Hallmark holiday. Solstice occurs specifically when the axial tilt of the Earth and the moon is most inclined towards the sun, at its maximum of 23° 26′. Solstice actually is a moment in time, and the day in which it occurs is Midsummer’s Day. This is the longest day of the year, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. This day has been marked throughout history with various celebrations and festivals. Some of the traditions I have heard include rolling naked in the morning dew (in order to strengthen your body for the coming year), washing ones face in the dew of a rose (to give lasting beauty), to dancing around bonfires (celebrating an abundant life). Maypole dancing, marriages, harvests, planting, bathing in a local rivers have all been performed on this day. The first full moon of June is also called a Honey Moon, said to be the best day to harvest honey from hives. All of this ties with marriage, because June was a traditional month to get married in ancient times (and not so ancient).
Nowadays we celebrate this day as a true mark that summer has arrived and we can collectively sigh with relief. The dog days of summer are upon us as the days continue to grow hotter and hotter and, at least here in Michigan, more and more humid. I am looking forward to the fireflies making an appearance, storms surging through the area giving me a thrill, and socialization with my friends and family. Believe it or not, I am also looking forward to getting hot and sweaty (for I will forever prefer that to being chilled to the bone). Even though it seems like my summer days are packed and full to the brim, it is more relaxed.
Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. ~Russel Baker
I woke up this morning and prepped for an early bike ride. I was out as the world was waking up, the air was damp from the rain that had just ended, you could literally feel the humidity. I ventured out into the countryside, bursting with energy. When I stopped mid-ride for a short break to hydrate, I glorified in the views around me. It wasn’t grand, there weren’t mountains in the distance or a crashing sea to capture my eye. It was just farmland, trees, flowers and bushes with houses dotted here and there. I closed my eyes and I listened as the world created its own music. The air was still, but the birds were busy chirping and calling to each other. Only the occasional car came along, and even that seemed hushed. It was the perfect start to my summer, and it made me smile. Today, I urge you to do something to make yourself smile, to make your heart sing, to glorify our world. Don’t be afraid to sweat, to get bitten by a few insects, to smell the clean air, or enjoy a view you might otherwise have overlooked.
Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. ~Henry James