Midsummer Day Family Merriment
BY Ashley Jones
Celebrating the Summer Solstice
My mind is flooded with images of fresh food from the garden; meals enjoyed on the back deck morning, noon and night; hours spent hiking in the woods; the thrill of finding the first wild strawberry; the delicious sweetness of the first glass of dandelion lemonade; fireflies filling the hot, humid night air with flickering light; the warmth of the sun on my skin; picnics and living life outside as much as we can.
As a family living in a part of the world with four very distinct and different seasons, we work hard to embrace each of them and the beauty they bring to our lives. Summer, though, has a special place in our hearts, and we welcome its return in June with delight.
Although all seasons celebrate the earth and her beauty, summer is really the pinnacle. There is something truly special about summer’s early morning light and the call of the birds, the long hot days, and the hum of insects as you fall asleep at night with a cool breeze blowing in from an open window. And then there is the slow patience of Mother Nature as she grows steadily throughout the summer.
Summer requires patience as we watch the earth bring forth her beauty. From seed to harvest, from bud to blossom, we must be patient. Mother Nature does not rush this process, and if we tune in we can hear the call to slow down, to take it all in, to be in the moment –this moment–and soak it all up, while running barefoot through the green grass.
Summer solstice, also known as Midsummer Day, is named for the goddess Litha, the goddess of fertility, power and order. Celebrated this year on June 21, it represents the longest day of the year–a time when the strength and power of the sun is at its peak, sending us a reminder that the earth is alive. It is a time, as each seasonal shift is, to show deep respect for the earth and to make a connection to the sun, inviting its power and light into our lives.
In our fast-paced world, our connection to the earth can sometimes be overshadowed, but it is truly never too late to connect, or reconnect, with and to the earth and her seasons.
1. Sun Catcher
Creating sun images to hang in a window and catch the sun.
Colored card stock in orange and yellow
Tissue paper (red, yellow, and orange) cut into little pieces
Draw and cut two suns.
Cut two circles of contact paper to fit the center of the sun.
Peel away the paper from one piece of the contact paper, and let little hands stick the pieces of tissue paper to the contact paper.
When complete, place the other sheet of contact a paper on top, and trim the excess tissue paper.
Place the contact paper between the two suns and glue together.
Attach some ribbon, hang in a window and enjoy!
1. Go for a hike
Find a local spot to explore, pack a picnic and walk. Children move slowly in the woods, which is perfect for exploring and noticing. Take your time, it doesn’t matter how far you go, just soak up the time in nature.
1. Create a compost area
This can be done in a drum, a compost bin or even in an open area in your backyard. Add your vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grinds, leaves, and newspaper to the pile and toss on some grass clippings to keep flies and odor at bay. Turn it over regularly and add water to keep it moist. Children love tossing the kitchen scraps into the pile, and later in the summer they are happy to see the wonderful dark soil they helped create.
2. Solar Images
Creating images using the sun.
Solar printing kit
Pieces of nature–leaves, flowers, bugs
Place nature pieces on solar paper, and place overlay over top.
Place in sun and watch the magic for two to three minutes.
When paper has changed color, soak in water for 1 minute and then hang to dry.
2. Search for wild strawberries
Summer solstice is the perfect time to begin your search for wild strawberries. If there were a taste for summer, this would be it. If you find a little patch in the woods, watch where you step–they are small and you wouldn’t want to squish any.
2. Leave only footprints
Wherever you go in nature, only take pictures and leave only your footprints. Try not to trample on delicate vegetation and harvest wild plants carefully and sparingly.
3. Flower Crown
Collect dandelions or other wild flowers; ensure stems are long and then gently weave together into a crown for your child.
3. Chase fireflies
Grab a mason jar with a lid and get to it. If you catch any, get that lid on fast!
3. Clean up your neighbourhood
Take a large trash bag and collect the garbage left behind in your neighbourhood. Keeping the earth clean is a responsibility we should all take, and seasonal shifts are a wonderful time to show our respect to the earth in this way.
4. Dandelion Lemonade
Dandelions (flowers, no leaves)–about 2 cups
8 cups of water
Juice of 4 lemons
Honey or maple syrup to taste
Add dandelions to a juice pitcher, and add water.
Add the juice of the lemons and honey or maple syrup to taste.
Chill for a few hours and enjoy!
4. Host a campfire and potluck
Invite some friends, everyone brings a dish, start a fire and enjoy! We sing this song as we light the fire “The fire in the sky, lights the fire in the trees, lights the fire that we light tonight.”
4. Honor Our Feathered Friends
Our feathered friends are always in need of food. Make pinecone birdfeeders and hang them around your yard. Collect pinecones and attach some string or twine to the wide end so it can be hung from a branch when complete. Cover the pinecone in peanut butter or lard, roll in bird seed, hang on a branch and wait patiently for the birds to arrive (this can take a couple of days if you have not fed the birds in your backyard before).
Solar Printing Kits and Paper – http://lawrencehallofscience.stores.yahoo.net/sunprintkits.html
More information about the 2014 Summer Solstice – http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/june-solstice.html
Books for kids
The Summer Solstice by Ellen Jackson
The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer
The Sun Egg by Elsa Beskow