Summer Solstice/Litha 2011

This post is a little late; I apologize. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t post about the solstice.

When I woke up Tuesday to NPR telling me it was the Summer Solstice I was actually kind of surprised. Somewhere between Saturday and Monday I had lost time and thought I had another day to plan! But, no! I felt rushed because I was in the middle of writing a ritual.  I really, really wanted to do it, but it wasn’t close to being finished.

So, when C went down for her first nap mid-morning I scurried about gathering the tools that I wanted, rehearsing the half-hashed-out ritual in my head. I planted my butt outside, calmed down and performed what I set out to do.

And it wasn’t half bad. I felt the energy palpably raise, the breeze rustled the dry leaves, the sun gently warmed my back as it hit its peak in the sky. Dogs barked in the distance; squirrels nibbled on acorns. As a bonus, later that day I felt that what I had done worked.

All in all, a successful ritual. I learned quiet a few useful things, too, one being that contrary to my previous belief my neighbors can see me when I stand up in our backyard. Whoops.

For the rest of the day I spent as much time in the sun as I could. I talked to C about the solstice. When J got home we drank sangria, and I sunbathed until the ants bit me back inside.

Even better, at one a.m. I woke to lightning flashing and thunder rumbling.

Rain. The perfect way to end the solstice.

Solstice Kitty! She's my writing mascot.

Quick Solstice Sangria: red wine, orange juice, apple-pear soda. Presto!

Our grass has turned to dry straw.

Dead leaves, dry ground.

The ants go marching one by one...

Hurrah! Hurrah!

Inch by inch, row by row/ Please bless these seeds I sow/ Please keep them safe below/ 'Till the rain comes tumbling down

Grain for grain, sun and rain/ Find my way in nature's chain/ Till my body and my brain/ Tell the music of the land

Lyrics provided by The Garden Song by David Mallett

And Then It Rained

The humidity began Tuesday. One moment sunshine carpeted the parched grass; the next, a gloomy lavender-grey shaded the yard.

I’ve mentioned before that it’s been dry (understatement) in central Texas this year. It harkens back to 2009 when we went months and months without a single drop of moisture. Pictures showed piers jutting out over deserts with names like Lake Travis and Highland Lake.

I can still remember the first rain shower that autumn. That summer had seen a record string of over 70 100+ temperature days in a row. I was getting out of my car at a friend’s condo when a cool, almost cold, gust of wet air made me turn my gaze to the sky. Bulbous purple clouds loomed over, sunlight streaking through whatever crevices it could find. I stood outside until the clouds broke and gentle, wet sploshes began to coat the sizzling sidewalk.

It hasn’t been that bad yet this year. But it’s still been dry, and my garden has certainly suffered from the drought.

So, Tuesday, when weather reports began to announce that we had a 30% chance of showers (!) one couldn’t help but feel excited. Clouds seemed to loom over every highway fly over. Humidity creeped up to smothering levels. People seemed to buzz, just a little, with gathering electricity. Yesterday even the usually drooping plants got in on the action, tilting and cupping their leaves to the sky.

Earlier that day to give thanks for a stray rain shower I set down an offering at the base of ‘Thor tree’.

I don’t really know where the name Thor came from in reference to this tree. Well, I do, it just sounds so insignificant. One day, while walking amongst the overgrown area of our backyard I felt the urge to finally look at that tree. I had lived almost a year at this house and never really seen it. So I looked, and knew it was special. For awhile I just kind of addressed it as Tree. Sometimes as Special Tree. Then one afternoon it just popped in my head–Thor Tree–and it kind of stuck. It’s a massive, spreading oak so I figured it wasn’t too off base.

Yesterday I afternoon I prayed at the tree that they would nudge the rain our way, and thanked them for the shower they did send. I felt it accepted.

Later that night, the humidity rose in our home as J and I finished the last season of Friday Night Lights. Two hours of crying–sympathetic magic, perhaps? 😉

This morning dawned damp. Smothering. J left for work as the first rumbles of thunder rolled overhead.

Then…

I think the proper term is unleashed. Lightening flashed; thunder cracked. The sky turned a delicious purple-black. The rain smacked the pavement and pounded the grass. It wasn’t a gentle summer storm, no. It raged violent, torrential.

Eventually the intensity eased up into a more genial shower. A few hours later it tapered off. Now I sit listening to a cacophony of jaws, robins, blackbirds and squirrels nattering back and forth, reveling in the slip-n-side green playground. The air is cool; the atmosphere one of almost relief.

I’m not sure anyone who hasn’t lived through droughts could quiet understand the utter joy at seeing, feeling, hearing rain. It’s such a primal relief–the crops will grow! The livestock will have water!–that as it pounded the roof above our porch I danced with my daughter, thanking the atmosphere, the spirits of the land, garden, summer, rain, Thor, whoever. I’m not sure. All of them? Perhaps.