Yesterday, the Summer Solstice marked the shortest night and the longest day. Right now, we are experiencing a peak in the amount of daylight hours… We can still see some faint light when we go to bed in our West facing bedroom and the dawn chorus begins at around 4 am when the earliest of birds begin their singing and calling. Darkness has been squeezed out to a confined few hours which leaves plenty of time to connect with the fullness of Summer present all around us at the moment.
When I walk around our smallholding, all I can see is growth, maturation, abundance and bounty. The lane verges and hedges are thick and full. The bird population appears to have increased ten fold with parent birds bringing their young to the feeders. The grass is growing much faster than we can cut it and our flock of six sheep, which in Winter was almost too large for the amount of grass in our fields, now seems tiny. With their fleeces off too, we can easily lose our six ewes in the tall grass!! We have several fragrant plants that give off the most delicious scent; the honeysuckle is my favourite. The soft fruit is swelling and ripening. We are a few days from picking our first strawberries. The redcurrants are turning red… it will soon be time for jam making. I have picked elderflower and made cordial, full of the delicious flavour of Summer. Tomato plants are filling the greenhouse and polytunnel: they have many flowers on and I have also spotted a couple of green fruit. I have melon plants flowering in the potting shed too. I have picked rhubarb and the first of the broad beans. Weeds and slugs are plentiful too!!
Nature is at its fullest right now and offers us the wonderful opportunity to recharge our batteries by being outdoors amongst the natural world and to nourish ourselves on the generous bounty of the season. Summer is also the season for joy, creativity and celebration. It is important to celebrate our achievements, to let our creative juices flow freely and to allow joy into our lives and into our being. This time of year is the best time to do this as being out in Nature when it is at its most abundant, plentiful and generous can supply us with the emotional resources and energy we need and support us in bringing joy, creativity and celebration into our lives.
Last week, deeply affected by the increasingly inflammatory and divisive language used in the EU referendum campaign and the tragic murder of Jo Cox MP, I took a walk with Peter around our meadow. Hand in hand, we walked in the tall grass abundant with wildflowers, checked the bird boxes, went to see our sheep and breathed in the lovely warm Summer air whilst taking in the beautiful views. Being close to Nature was restorative and, surrounded by the abundant flowers, tall grass, birds flying and calling around us, my feelings of fear, sadness and anger receded to give way to hope, joy, love and gratitude. It was the most healing experience; I felt in balance and at peace. The fullness and abundance I encountered by being out in Nature had enabled me to open my heart to love and compassion.
It seems to me that a message we can take from Summer, with its fullness and abundance, is that a big heart, full of kindness, good will, compassion and love for self and others is in us and within our reach when we need it. Nature can help us access it.