We had it marked on our calendar all year, but an e-mailed article from a friend reminded us this morning, and our pulse quickened involuntarily. The Summer Solstice arrives very very late Saturday night, actually at precisely 1:45 a.m. Sunday morning. That’s the precise moment that the Northern Hemisphere’s tilt toward the sun reaches its maximum stretch, seems to shudder from the tension in its deepest machinery like a diver on a bungee. The Solstice ushers in the longest day of continuous sunlight on June 21st but also begins the earth’s grinding tilt back toward our winter.
It was evidently a High Holy Day among the Druids, but the Incas, the Aztecs, the Chinese, and many other cultures noted the appearance of the sun on this day every year, that it seemed to stand still (“solstice” literally means “sun standing still”). Maybe it was the solstice when Joshua got his freak on: “Sun, stand thou still,” sez he, and according to Joshua 10, the sun obeyed.
But Joshua wanted more daylight so he could slaughter more Amorites. The sun stands still for us modern Druids for wholly benign sustenance ... so that we can knit lettuce, weave beets and onions, sew together our great cloaks of corn and beans and squash, hem ourselves up with potatoes.
We’ll be awake at 1:45 a.m. Sunday morning and in our garden, performing by the light of the fireflies the rites of thankfulness for the generosity of the good earth. (And, yes, this is how rumors of devil worship get started.)