Monday, June 21, 2010

June 21: Summer Solstice

This afternoon as I was driving home from a meeting, the car thermometer read 90 and the sun was high in a deep blue sky. Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. After this, as one friend put it, it's all downhill till the Winter Solstice. I reveled in the lush steaminess of the day.

Besides being significant on the world's seasonal calendar, this day is also important as my niece Nola's first birthday. What a powerful day on which to be born, the day when the sun god is in his prime, when the sun has reached its apex. Surely she will go through life fired by an inner solar power.

I was musing on the luxurious heat and light of late afternoon, the richness of the foliage on this humid Midsummer's Day, when I noticed an odd-shaped cloud scrawled on the sky's blue screen stretching over Mount Battie. The cloud looked like a big, white C. Immediately I thought of certain mountains I've seen in Arizona desert country (and in other places out west) upon which proud locals have painted the first letter of their town's name. A mountain right outside Parker, Arizona bears a large white P, for example. This seems to be a common practice, and rather than defacing the mountain, it serves in its way as a link between landscape and community.

So even though Mount Battie bears no resemblance to the arid, patchy hills of the west, today the weather  shaped a fluffy C to perch on its craggy, pine-covered summit, just for Camden, just for a moment. I looked up later and it was scattered. (I guess it was too much to ask for an N for Nola--nature's sky-writers would have a real challenge with that one.) Ephemeral as it was, however, that special Solstice cloud bridged a gap in my memory between two places I love: Maine and the Sonoran desert of Arizona. And today both of them were hot and sunny for the first day of Summer.

Strange how even on
a humid Maine summer day
I think of desert.

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