Last December, I wrote a post about celebrating the darkness of Winter Solstice and of partaking in that extra dream time those long winter nights bring with them. It seems appropriate that today I write a post celebrating the light. Happy Summer Solstice, my Lovelies! In the UK, the days are extravagantly long, and everything is blooming itself silly just before setting fruit. OMG! There are not enough words for delicious to describe British asparagus and strawberries!
And the birds! The birds start up their raucous Dawn Chorus at 03:45! I know because I heard them start this morning. I think that’s rather auspicious, being awake in the early hours of Summer Solstice to hear the Dawn Chorus begin. And this bad boy black bird is the first to start the song. Even at that insane hour the sky was rimmed with that thin line of silver that happens just before night gives way to the charcoal grey and dusty blue of the first intimations of morning.
Oh! And if you look out the window at Grace Manor, you will see how we celebrate summer on our grand estate. That’s right, it’s garden porn time. The light brings with it heat and the heat means the ground is ready to plant. Germination is happening! Beans are thigmotroping, corn is photosynthesising. And we’re ready. We’ve been planning since January.
This year’s a little different though. This year, we’ve decided to share the fun. It’s a lot of work putting in a veg patch the size of ours — especially when underneath our efforts to build up the soil, it’s still a clay pit that demands lots of physical labour to make it ready. With that in mind, we invited the neighbours, two doors down, to share the veggie fun — a very smart thing to have done. We have not only halved our efforts, but we’ve doubled the laughter and and the excitement and the wonder at seeds growing exponentially into huge plants that produce such succulent delicious treats. Add to the fact that this young couple has no space for a veg patch of their own, and both have a green thumb, and seeing their excitement is almost as much fun as feeling our own.
And then there’s the celebrating the day’s efforts. That almost always involves beer or cider. Following Sunday afternoon’s efforts, Mr. Grace, in the mood for a party, cranked up the bar-b-q and the four of us sat outside over our burgers and wine and fresh British strawberries. We lingered long into the approaching evening watching the bats fly over and listening to the birds sing their good-nights, while we planned and schemed our veggie kingdom. In the midst of it all, there was a wonderful sense of camaraderie that comes from time spent with kindred spirits.
Planting things, seeing things grow, tending them, and then harvesting them and feasting always feels like the perfect way to honour the Earth in all of her splendour and change. It’s a wonderful way of being a little closer to those cycles we’re all so connected to and yet have sadly lost touch with. Veg gardening is reconnecting in a visceral way. It’s a very real reminder of what sustains us, what gives us life, and why we celebrate the light.
Happy Solstice, however you celebrate. Me, I’m going to fondle the plants in my veg patch, then I’m going for a walk in the English countryside. The sun is full on us. Let’s bask in the light, as we dreamed in the darkness, and see what grows from that wonderful, seasonal blending of the two.