summer solstice 2010

first of july- happy canada day for everyone! but it's kind of silly to designate a date to celebrate a nation i think. the idea of celebrating a nation is great. it's just the arbitrary nature of the exact date i think is a bit silly.  okay, so it is not totally out of the blue as 1867 1 july 1867, the four provinces of nova scotia, new brunswick and quebec and ontario (used to be called the 'canada' province) formed the basis of independent canada as we know it (though the last leg of separation from the british paliament was as late as 1982), but along with the boon of the fourth of july just over the border, it is a quite a big celebration.  if i was back on the branch up in 32nd floor, the sky would be very clear as both countries tend to take the whole week easy and shut down the factories to holiday schedule, hence giving the great lakes region a rare chance to see the sky (not smog).

however, at the moment i am still in uk, enjoying a visit that is no longer just a holiday, more like settling-in-by-numbers like session.  ive been up to some domestication activities such as buying and planting small herbs for the backyard, cooking and entertaining friends, eating lots of cakes, dog/child sitting, etc., and recently passed a big holiday in a big place. now you wonder: where could it be?

i happened to realize that by summer solstice, mr. salamander would have a concert to do in malvern.  so we'll be down in southward direction anyways.  and that was taking place on the 20th of june.  being that 21st of june is the solstice and we would be able to get to stonehenge without too much suffering, we have decided with childish enthusiasm to spend the nightout with the stones.  one of the seven medieval wonders of the world, the stones are probably erected ca. 2500bc.  what was it for- no one really knows.  it seems that the site was used for various rituals such as cremation and other funeral rites; further entangled with imagery of netherworld, arthurian healing circle of merlin, it is still full of incomprehensible mystery and awe.  

so after a semi painful performance in malvern where a number of the orchestral members expressed infinite sense of freedom and gratitute ('tis done!'), we spent a night in a small village of longdon to head down to wiltshire, where the stones are.  the drive was okay, it was a brilliant day.  the lines leading to stonehenge was busy with like-minded crowd: just to see the solstice sunrise by the stones.  see, the special thing about the solstices is that the national trust opens the site to the full capacity. during the normal open hours of the year, one is able to go near by the stones, but is not allowed to interact with it, as there has been much loss due to human wear and tear.  if you are extremely privileged and organized, you could book a ticket to see the stones 'outside' of operation hours.  per 26 tickets, what you are then allowed to do is get near to the stones and be able to walk through some of them.  but still, the stones will be carefully guarded and you cant touch it.  but during the solstices, the stones were once again embraced by the people.  as it have been, year after year.

the night was clear, cold and full of excitement.   for no particular reason at all.  there were no organized entertainments or activities.  lots and lots of families. a little of hippie groups with their bongo drums (perpetually out of time). lots of enthusiastic teenagers, running around and kissing every stone.  many international people.  old folks with their picnic blankets.  monkey and mr. salamander.  that night, we spent the dark blue velvet night by one of the stones.  leaning right against them.  letting them take a bit of our body temperature, looking up and seeing the gigantic stone roofs.  i felt happy, complacent and appreciative.  how many have spent their evenings over stonehenge's history, looking forward for another axis point, a cusp of the year, the day of longest light.  how many have dreamed, imagined and explored the things that are so far from the daily musings for morning tea and newspapers.  how many times did the heel stone be set on fire with the rising sun.  wondrous and magical evening.  

the sunrise was a bit cloudy and so we didnt get to see the sun hitting the heel stone, but once the sun was up and was setting the wide green pasture with golden enthusiasm, we all were relieved into moments of relaxation, appreciation, warmth and hope.  that weird sense of hope that run through +20,000 crowds, no major problems or disturbance, just a bit disorganized, too-early (sunrise was at 445am) however very personal, had blanketed all of us. including neo druids, pagans and just. simple. people.

the rest of the day was spent in salisbury, at the cathedral and and the down.  it was a lovely day, a bit slower and fuzzier in the head, thanks to lack of sleep. but i can never forget that general sense of hope that swept across the open plain, as the wind caresses the long grasses, just like sea waves, evocative of the gentle stroke from one creature to another, as the each fine hairs bend slightly upon touch, following the gentle coxing of love.  

it was rather funny as we were questioned by a few friends: why did you go there? only the idiots go there on solstices! well.  let me be an idiot. i am not better than another fellow human who was there, occupying the same space and time, inhaling the same sunshine.  i pity all those who needed to have a sense of superiority, the ones who were clearly not 'moronic' as they knew better.  i wonder how they would prefer to see the stones, if not in crowd and not from far away.  bang the national trust official? may be, ahaha. but joke aside.  it is one of weird feelings that explanation just does not do any justice, as one needed to be there.

i wonder where i will be during next solstice. who knows. i wish it will be as awe-striking and inspiring as the wknd at stonehenge.  love and best wishes for the long summer days, to you all.

1 comment:

  1. for whatever reason, real or imagined, the apex of the year feels significant. It was an awe inspiring experience, and (as a part time builder), impressively humbling. As an Englishman, I have to agree that the weather was, indeed, splendid. This apex will stay in my mind! Thanks for having the idea..