Two days ago the world turned us past the solstice, the northern hemisphere’s longest day.
It all starts with snowdrops, emerging invisibly among the grass until suddenly the eye realises wait - those blades aren’t grass: they’re ankle-height already, they’re too blue, and some of them have thick tips. And they open and stipple the darkness of the earth like brilliant footlights shining white against the gloam. And then there are daffodils. Knee-high blades swelling and bowing and bursting into sunshine as the sky-light lengthens into equinox. Nettles emerge, and comfrey; leaves to my waist, blue bellflowers to my breast, hanging over huge leaves. And as the sun rises higher, the umbellifers climb, unfurl and blazon their white clouds to the white clouds above my head.
My size reduces as the green fuse drives skyward; my eyes lift with the rising tide of leaf and petal; my heart feels the call to open as my clothes lighten, and skin welcomes the touch of the air.
The wheeling year scoops life up and out of the earth, enclosing my walks in an embrace of green and light. Blackthorn echoes the snowdrop white to splash the March hedgerows, sketching the field margins chalky, loudening the quiet message of the yellowbronze catkins. Leafbuds explode into impossible greens, fabulously extravagant against impossibly blue skies. And May pushes up tsunamis of hawthorn foam hanging over road verges, threatening inundations of Summer.
And now, at our year’s height, the buckets of the light-wheel brim over. Day reaches further round the clock, greening even the late sky, scooping up every last drop. Nothing is wasted. All is collected, and will fall with the turning wheel into gather and garner, reap and glean, the gold of the harvest and the yellowreds of the leaves. As the earth’s turning has raised the sun higher, the light drawing growth from the earth, so the growth’s fruiting will return it, warmth-fed, to the mothering earth who will bewomb it in the mystery of darkness against the turn of the next solstice.
Would that we could gather the light, that it might pour for us as the dark gathers; that we might pool gold into the shortening days; that we might feel the grace of green in the gathering dark. We might, though, as we meander through the wonder of the year’s height, fill our memory buckets with the light of long days, to dip our winter mugs into its promises.