A little superstitiously, I never let this night pass me by and it's never let me down. I have celebrated in Swedish fields, Los Angeles backyards, New York rooftops. This year, in the hills of France, like so many years before it, the plan was largely unclear.
My solstice wishes centered around being able to swim peacefully in a natural body of water, creating a seasonal feast, and lighting a fire - however small. My family was kind and spirited enough to oblige me on all of the above.
Mid afternoon, sun shining bright, I was driven to and bid adieu at one of the lovelier river access points in the area, the Saint-Martin-d'Ardèche. They dropped me off on the way to town, picking me up after I had ample time swim and float and read and bask in the day.
Before that, an early morning market excursion. Depending on where you live in France you will always have a market at least one day a week offering stall upon stall of the freshest of everything. No matter the day, early morning arrival is key. It's bustling, fascinating, tiring, and energizing. We let ourselves be inspired, our kitchen countertops soon overflowed with ingredients for the perfect solstice dinner and then some.
Back home, doors open. The strong mistral winds giving us an atypical pause from their gusty power. Cold pilsner, hot shower. I made a solstice cake in Scandinavian (and my own) tradition with a little French sentiment thrown in in honor of this year's surroundings. Bright yellow eggs added to the airiest base, two crisp meringue tops sprinkled with slivered almonds; both layers baked carefully, cooled, and assembled with freshly whipped cream, vanilla bean, and the contents of a wooden box of perfect strawberries we'd bought that morning.
Dinner was on the terrace with blackened fish from the grill, sweet green beans, fresh tomatoes, and buttered new potatoes. Following the perfect pink sunset, Jan built a fire with old juniper wood from the surrounding property. We wrapped lavender and Queen Ann's lace around tobacco and new intentions. The stars shown bright and a slight breeze blew the faintest sounds of a nearby music festival intermittently through. I sat on the ground next to the fire, watching the logs and glowing embers until it, and everything we'd burnt with it, all but disappeared. One final steam infused offering courtesy of the garden hose and it was finally time for bed. Another beautiful solstice. I felt so thankful.
I thought a lot yesterday and last night about my own good fortune as of late, as well as the admitted resistance I have felt in the in between. It's undeniable that patience has recently and repeatedly given me the sweetest of rewards when I am open enough to relax and let things reveal themselves, to trust myself, and to truly open my eyes to see what's possible. You can't wait for lighting to strike, but you can pause long enough to see it when it does.
So much uncertainty exists for me in the midst of this particular solstice, but with a night so perfect it makes me think I must be doing something right.
Happy solstice everyone.
"may the long time sun,
shine upon you,
all love surround you,
and the pure light within you,
guide your way on."