Thursday, June 19, 2008
I've lived most of my life in the northern United States, so I'm accustomed to the long summer evenings around solstice. (When I was a kid, I lived far, far west in the eastern time zone, so it didn't get dark till around 10 p.m.) Now that I'm pregnant, I'm in bed every night by nine, and the sky is still light. Strange. It feels like being a kid again.
Twice in my life I've spent the summer solstice far north of this, once crossing the Baltic Sea by ferry from Sweden to Russia, and once on the shores of Lithuania. In both places, the sun doesn't fall below the horizon the whole night. I remember waking in the middle of the night to peer from my porthole, to watch the strange northern sun hover high above the horizon. And I remember drinking beer in large groups around bonfires in Lithuania, skinny dipping in the cold water before huddling back into our rough Polish sweaters, and stumbling to bed early in the morning.
This weekend's celebrations include a city-wide festival that begins tonight with a fantastic parade, and my ordination on Saturday. It's cool, damp, and gray here, not much like midsummer, but that means the strawberry season will last longer (unless it's too wet), and I won't sweat through the ceremony this weekend. Maybe it will even be cool enough to have a solstice bonfire in the fireplace.
The liminality of the Beltane season gives way to the fullness of Litha. Gather your herbs, leave out cream for the fairies, build your fires high, and dance the sun to sleep. Merry midsummer!