People argue about when summer begins. Is it when school lets out? Memorial Day? The summer solstice? The Fourth of July? No doubt in other parts of the world (especially in the southern hemisphere!), other dates are considered as well.
For me, the summer begins the evening of June 23: Midsummer Night’s Eve. For many years, I have sat down with a potable beverage and a copy of Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This year, I joined a group reading while drinking a bottle of hard cider. It was an appropriate choice: summer should be about nature and living things, and cider connects us to apples and orchards, one of the characteristic landscapes of New England, where I live.
Summer is the proper time for magic and fantasy. Hot, warm, lazy days, followed by nights when one can stroll about without needing a coat: it’s a time to be outdoors. The mind can drift where it might, mixing the trivial and the profound, the ordinary with the wondrous. The “Twilight Time” segment of the Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed album captures the mood.
As a child, I spent summers watching lightning storms over a lake, wondering if I’d encounter Mary Stewart’s version of Merlin emerging out of some small thicket, sitting in a spruce tree far above everyone else while reading a book, or traveling on my bicycle to a state park with that great wonder, a waterfall!
The year I turned eighteen, the summer ended with a great transition: I went off to college, living away from home for the first time. There was magic at the end of that summer, the promise of adventures to come, a future opening up before me, and even a song about a “magic man” to listen to on the radio.
As an adult, I once turned winter into summer. I went off on a vacation to New Zealand in February. I saw another country’s wonders. I hiked through a rain forest, visited thermal springs, and climbed a volcano, all the while reading of Maori legends and imagining other fantastic adventures. (There’s even a story on this blog that was an offshoot of that trip.) True, I never imagined someone filming Lord of the Rings there, but that has added yet another layer of magic in retrospect to the trip.
Most of us tend to lose much of our sense of wonder, of adventure, and of magic, as we grow older. I’ve been feeling it ebb myself for some years. Prosaic reality seems relentless. But this summer, I’ve decided it is time to recreate some of that old magic and fantasy. Exactly how, I’m not yet sure. But stick around the blog, and I’ll let you all know how it turns out!
I could sense your sense of wonderment as I read your words. I wish you well in re-kindingly what seems to be lost. (It never goes, it just sleeps for a while, though with some people it never re-wakes). Do those things you used to do; immerse yourself in nature; a weekly walk in the wilds (or as close as is possible), play the old songs, music to recall your young days; whatever it takes.
BTW: I would argue that Summer Solstice is 21st, not 24th June. It’s the day the sun appears to stand still. It ‘stands’ for 5 days, two days either side of the actual day. This varies year to year, but 21st is nearer than 24th which is the day it moves again — to the south, to begin the process of ushering in winter. 🙂
And the 21st is what I was taught was the solstice as well, although from the astronomical perspective of maximum axial tilt. I gather the Midsummer of Shakespeare’s is the Christian religious festival, which, like Christmas, only approximates the solstice. Maybe the Julian calendar’s errors also figured in.
24th is St John (the Baptist’s) feast day, isn’t it? The day his head ended up on the plate. Or is it the other St John who held the horse while we got on? (Matthew, Luke, Mark and John, hold the horse while we get on)
While I learned it as “hold the cuddie . . .”
For my Roaring Twenties course, I watched a number of films, including a 1923 version of Wilde’s Salome starring Alla Nemizova, a Russian emigre who apparently coined the term “sewing circle” for a lesbian gathering.
Really? Well that’s a term I’ve never heard.
My mother used to say it that way, but she wasn’t too clear about it. Took me years to realize that what she was saying was Scots for “horse.”
Hold on. Did you think she was saying ‘whores’?
No, no, she said “cuddies,” but never explained what a cuddy was.
No, I’ve not heard of a cuddy. I would think it a corruption of caddy, and think the apostles were playing golf!
Reading that play sounds like a wonderful — and magical — way to start the summer off right. I’ve been thinking about what you wrote, about losing the sense of wonder and magic as we grow up. For me, I think it’s a sense of hope and optimism, that something cool and wonderful might happen at any moment if we’re just open to it. I was actually doing pretty well with that well into adulthood (sort of known for it, even) until about seven years ago, when I had a series of horrible failures and losses in the course of a few months that pretty profoundly derailed my life plans. I’ve been building things back up again, piece by piece, but the wonder and magic are still not quite there, and I didn’t even realize it until I read your post. Which I see as a great sign, because five or six years ago, I wouldn’t even have had “optimistic and magical” as a realistic goal, and now I do again, so three cheers for recovery!
I’m happy to hear that. 🙂
While I’ve had nothing quite so drastic happen to me, my own life had had its rough spots for the last several years. And it’s amazing how subtle and pervasive depression can be, even when you think you’re laughing at it!
So here’s to some magic, some hope, and some wonderful things!
And, btw, I plan to be stopping by your blog to do some back reading soon.
Three cheers for magic and hope and wonderful things! Stop by my blog any time — some weeks are more magical (and less depressed) than others. 🙂