I find summer solstice a little bittersweet, mainly based on a long standing family tradition of greeting it as "downhill to Christmas" which I fear might actually be a throwback to the Terry Wogan Breakfast Show. Luckily however, I have blocked that from my memory. Of course it's true, despite enjoying bright skies until late last night, after an evening of the craziest rain I've ever seen, the days are now going to be getting shorter. A comment I saw on the Stonehenge sunrise feed this morning pointed out, somewhat pedantically that all days remain as 24 hours whatever the time of year, but that is very much not the point. This is the best time of year to be living in Scotland with the long hours of daylight, well deserved after the never ending winter nights. It's a time of celebration, with traditional midsummer being celebrated on St John's Day, 24th June, as designated by the early Christian church, six months before the Christmas celebration of Jesus' birth, and still celebrated on this date in much of mainland Europe. Of course its pagan roots go back much further, and today pagans celebrate midsummer on the solstice. Confusingly, the solstice is also designated the start of astronomical summer. So, first day of summer or the mid-point, either way, take some time to appreciate the seasons and nature as they change, for the moment is fleeting. Ironically, as I write this, the rain is pelting down again and I'm worrying about how my walking meeting in East Kilbride this afternoon is going to be affected! I know I always cite the no such thing as bad weather quotation in these circumstances, but right now I'm not sure that there is any clothing suitable for the task, with the possible exception of a wetsuit, and I'm not sure if that is meeting appropriate! I'm not sure (and slightly concerned) about how well my computer knows me. When I searched the quote to make sure I was getting it right, I was actually looking for Alfred Wainright, that well known walker and Lake District aficionado. Unsurprisingly however Billy Connelly also showed up as one of the top hits. In his book Billy he says "I hate all those weathermen, too, who tell you that rain is bad weather. There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing, so get yourself a sexy raincoat and live a little." I shall try to channel that when I leave the house shortly! With some immaculate placement, the next quote listed is "Scotland has the only football team in the world that does a lap of disgrace." which seems a bit harsh after last night, but I think in those circumstances it would have had to be a width or a length, as Hampden was more swimming pool than racetrack.
I am grateful that my morning walk took place in the dry, with sun glinting off the raindrops that covered everything, and I remain confident that whatever the weather I shall enjoy my walk around the green spaces of East Kilbride. There is nature to notice whatever the weather and everything will smell fresh after the rain. I've been appreciating the smell of summer so much this year; the flowers seem to be particularly abundant and potent, so don't forget to use your nose when you're out and about, or get some summery essential oil or herbal tea for the house.
It's not just the season we're celebrating this week. This is Insect Week, a celebration of all things insect, organised by the Royal Entomological Society, and their strapline is "the little things that run the world". I'm sure there's a political joke in there somewhere but I'm not going to bring us down. On the website there is a link to the winning photos from last year's insect week and they are well worth a look. However feart you may be of the spider in your bath, there's something magical about these shots, the eyes of a damselfly or the antennae of a praying mantis. This Friday 23rd June we'll be doing our bit to celebrate Insect Week in South Lanarkshire with a celebration event at Cadzow Glen. Run by the countryside rangers, it's an opportunity to come along and learn about some of the native species that can be found in our local areas and how you can help to encourage them. As always there'll be an opportunity to have a cup of tea or coffee in our lovely wildlife area. There's no better way to connect with nature.