The forecasters told us there would be a “major weather pattern change.” I’ll say. New snow is on the mountains around the lake, with rain and 50 degrees in the valleys, for days to come. And, here we are, at the Summer Solstice. We had relaxed into a summer mind already– now this. The forecast for at least the next week is for colder than normal summer temperatures. Joy wrote from Billings yesterday, “Ugh. When will it be truly summer!” I didn’t tell her that there was that one summer–maybe 25 years ago–when Don and I came up for an August wedding of a friend of his, before we had decided to move to Montana, and it rained every single day, except for five days, that entire summer. Despite recent history, the old timers have always said that summer does not start until the 4th of July, and June was always the rainiest month. But, I think we are afraid it might just not happen this year. There are heavy clouds of anxiety hovering over our world right now– climate change, dangerous dictators, denial of science, suffocation by plastic, and entire continents of people on the move for their very survival. An imminent threat of war with Iran hangs over us at this very moment. We’ve felt like we could trust, could count on summer to return, that the sun will come out tomorrow, even as half the bee colonies in the world are now extinct. It’s easy to lose hope when the skies are blackened by rain and hail, the lake roars all night long, and tree limbs litter the lawn in the morning.
I overheard a friend describing my blog to someone the other day, and she said, “It’s about the weather.” I’ve been thinking about that, aware that I always start each day with “what are the skies like this morning?” It’s an adaptive strategy, to be sure, looking outside my own window as soon as I start the day. In despair over the world, it would be easy to lose this one wild and precious day. Better for me to pay attention to the wind and rain, sun and snow, clouds and moonshine, and know that this is how I can stay tethered to here and now, the only moment I can really count on anyway.
Even though the furnace is running this morning, it’s windy and cold and more rain is building across the lake, what would the Summer Solstice be without Mary Oliver’s A Summer Day. Happy Solstice to us all!
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?