Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer solstice celebrations

Summer in the mountains is finally making an appearance. Although my daughter and I had to wear winter caps as we played outside yesterday, we only had to wear a sweatshirt and light jacket instead of a heavy coat- summer is here! Since the days are longer from extended hours of sunlight, we are assured of the summer season; and the calendar tells us the solstice has passed and we are indeed in summer.

Summer brings many special memories to my mind.

Summer- always the season of freedom and exploration; my sister and I would ride our bikes for miles to hiking trailheads and then hike for many miles more, accomplishing so much with the extended hours of sunlight. We spent countless hours in our forts we built in the woods, dreaming up adventures to take part in. The whole summer was a celebration and we did not need to narrow down the celebration to one day. However, there are two specific occasions that come to mind of celebrating the summer solstice.

The first celebration of the summer solstice takes place in Alaska.

When I arrived in Alaska, which was the beginning of summer, people were certainly enjoying the fact that the sun was up for such a long time. The day of the summer solstice was no exception. A group of people I was working with headed to Hope to join in the celebrations, and I was lucky enough to join in the experience of the solstice in Alaska.

We arrived in Hope late, but since it was the solstice and Alaska, I felt as though it was only dusk. There were a lot of people celebrating! A whole meadow was filled with tents, camping sites, and groups of people gathered together under the dusky sky. Some groups had someone with a guitar and were singing around a campfire, people were walking around joining groups, and music from the band at the bar drifted around the celebration site. Each group of people were friendly and talked with our group as we walked by. I don't recall what time we left, I just remember the wonderful time we had celebrating the solstice.

My other experience with the solstice takes place when I was younger.

Our friends from North Carolina were out and we were sitting around a campfire having a good time listening to one of the guys play the guitar. He played bluegrass songs and some Jimmy Buffett. When he played the Volcano song by Jimmy, he had us all get up and do the Volcano Dance. He told us there was nothing to the dance. All you had to do was stand up, move and dance around the campfire however we felt like moving, and sing the song. We had a good laugh after dancing around the campfire.

I'm sure the other campers in the area thought we were all crazy.

I won't soon forget either of these experiences. They make me smile and look forward to the day when I can start my own celebrations of the seasons with my kids. Why not have them look forward to the summer solstice like they would for Christmas?

I'm glad the season gives us extra time to spend outdoors- either in our yard or along the river until late hours of the night. Being able to stay outside and see the stars appear makes for a peaceful way to end the day. I think I'll do the Volcano dance tonight.

1 comment:

  1. We used to build forts in summer. We used to build forts in winter. What did kids build before we had forts?