Solstice Cake

Happy Summer Solstice to the Northern Hemisphere. Today on Twitter, someone wrote that they were depressed about the state of the world, the way things are going, and not even chocolate cake could help.

Blossoming weeds grow up through last year’s leaves. Photo: PKR

It’s the longest day of the year (and shortest night), a good time to reflect on how life flows in a rhythm that has constant change and also a wealth of constants. Summer solstice is my favorite solstice when it comes to weather and general merriment, but my second favorite in terms of symbolism.

For as of today, no matter how green and blossoming and warm it might be (and today in my corner of eastern France, it is all those things, with birdsong and light breezes and a tree heavy with ripening cherries thrown in), from now on the days will shorten inexorably until late December and the next solstice. Summer is just beginning, and those lush trees and meadows are already holding the dried leaves of winter to come.

Some call them weeds, but they are verge survivors. Photo: PKR

And then, when the Winter Solstice (my favorite one) comes along and we are facing the prospect of dark mornings, early sunsets, and long chilly nights, there is the nascent seed of summer already there with the first day that is longer than the previous one. The promise of warmth at the other end of cold.

To my Twitter friend, I said we were in need of another kind of cake, another kind of comfort. So there’s this: The swing of the pendulum and the circling of the planet. The promise of constants and constant change.

The best part of this is, we can be that change, even as the days get shorter and the nights get longer. We can be getting ready for the next solstice when that process reverses.

The Jura Mountains during my morning run. Photo: PKR

Year-Round Gardening

After ringing in 2014 with good friends, I was thinking on this first morning of the New Year about the annual milestones and celebrations provide a mooring for the passage of time.

Door to the Chancellery of the City and Canton of Geneva, Switzerland Photo: PK Read

Door in Geneva, Switzerland
Photo: PK Read

Actually, what I was really thinking about was how helpful it is to have regular markers, seasonal dates and observances to create a recognisable path through what might otherwise be an overflowing delta of uncollected life events.

Ever-ready trowel at the gate to the farm kitchen garden next door. Photo: PK Read

Gate to the farm kitchen garden next door.
Photo: PK Read

I don’t mean clocks and calendars so much as moments like New Year’s Eve, an otherwise unremarkable night that acts as a passage from one time to another. And with it, the reflections on the past and resolutions for the future, as if the tools for constructing the way forward aren’t always ready and at hand.

Regardless of which markers we use in our own country or cultures, time and life flow forward at their own pace.

Layers of time in the Long View
Source: The Long Now

So, Happy New Year and best wishes for 2014, but also: Best Wishes for Now, all the time.