In the UK the summer solstice will be at 22:43 today (Saturday 20th June). The solstice marks the start of summer and is the longest day of the year. It’s a time to celebrate the sun and its gifts to us and to celebrate our achievements. There’s more on the folklore of the solstice in this post from a couple of years ago if you’re interested.
This year, as many of us have spent all of spring locked down in our houses, marking the beginning of summer seems particularly important. Like many people, being required to stay close to home, to walk the same paths day after day has made me more aware of the small changes which make up a season. Spring doesn’t happen in one glorious burst on the equinox. It unfolds gradually in the unfurling of leaves, blossom brightening up bare branches, birds nesting, swallows returning. I’ve had time this year to witness these moments and to cherish them as signs that, in a world which has felt scary and overwhelming, nature follows a familiar pattern.
Having said that I’ve still longed to be able to get out and about again. I’ve particularly missed the sea. If you’ve read Storm Witch you’ll know I love the sea and even though I don’t go all of the time I found it really hard to know that I couldn’t go. On Monday the pull of the sea was getting too strong to resist and I went to Hornsea on the East Yorkshire coast. It wasn’t quite as I’d imagined as there was a very localised sea fret clinging to the promenade and beach. It was warm and sunny when I arrived but as I walked towards the front, the sun disappeared and temperature noticeably dropped and by the time I reached the beach it was distinctly foggy. It was also pretty empty I think, it was kind of hard to tell. But the important thing was that I could hear the waves, feel the sand under my feet and I honestly didn’t care about the mist. The fog burned off after a while and the sun burst through, turning it into a glorious afternoon.
I’d last been on a beach in mid-March when I went to Scarborough for work. After my meeting had finished I’d walked down the prom in search of fish and chips and then briefly strolled on the beach. It’d been blustery and showery but after the rain came an incredible double rainbow, arcing high over the bay. It’s the last photo on my phone from pre-lockdown. Rainbows have come to mean so much over the last few months, to symbolise gratitude and hope and belief in community. Looking back at this photo now, I feel blessed to have had that day, to have seen the rainbow. On some of the bad days during lockdown it’s reminded me of the sea and it’s given me hope.
If you’ve got a photo or a memory from pre-lockdown that’s been keeping you going and you’d like to share it then I’d love to hear about it.
Enjoy the solstice,
Love Alys xx