MIDSUMMER STASIS 2021: A CELEBRATION
A blue sky frames quiet branches. It is the midsummer standstill in my neighbourhood – a period extending over several days. I took the picture on 23 June, in the early afternoon, a time of soft warmth and sunshine, with me able to meet it. I had been prepared to miss it this year, and was delighted when the opportunity came.
The picture below shows the play of afternoon light and shade in a semi-sheltered spot, where a footbridge crosses a stream.
The next picture makes it clear that there is substantial built environment too here – one of the things I like about this landscape – in the form of weathered railway arches visible behind the foreground green.
The nearby canal looks sleepier than the stream, as if dreaming in the lushness of the moment.
Below, water margin nettles stand out as part of the richness and fecundity of this space, calling for my attention. Clearly capable of being an irritant and seen largely as a nuisance today, the nettle was highly valued by our ancestors for food, fibre and medicine. The Druid Plant Oracle (1) describes it as “a storehouse of goodness” bearing hidden gifts. Nettle tea is widely thought of as health promoting, and modern research confirms that it is rich in antioxidants and vitamins. It is suggested that its polyphenols are helpful in managing chronic illnesses that involve inflammation. I am taking it up as a drink.
There are other, varied riches beside the path, easy to ignore, but also easy to notice and enjoy for their beauty and vitality alone.
I went for this walk without any intention of taking photographs and I travelled quite a way before I began. I felt as though the landscape was persuading me to record the day, and thus bear witness to the midsummer stasis. Yes, it happened in 2021, as it happens every year. Here is the evidence. I am glad I showed up to be part of it,
(1) Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm The Druid Plant Oracle: Working with the Magical Flora of the Druid Tradition London: Connections, 2007 (Illustrated by Will Worthington)
I live in a fabulously clean environment and enjoy a little foraging now and then – nettles go well in almost anything – I put them in homemade gnocchi – ransoms were great this year – everything is later this far north but it is at last looking lush and abundant. We seem to be having blustery days in-dispersed with eerily still ones just now. Many blessings…
I envy your fabulously clean environment. It’s pretty mixed here. Our weather is all over the place too. The day I took the photos was the best of the week. Many blessings to you too!
I’m so pleased you decided to take some photos, they capture the moment perfectly. Thanks for sharing! I hope you find good healing in nettles, like so many other so-called ‘weeds’ they are much maligned but hugely beneficial and restorative, particularly as tea and soup. I also use them to make a nutrient-rich feed for other plants in the garden. A generous plant and truly a storehouse of goodness.
Thanks for this comment Lis. I’ve started drinking nettle tea, laced with honey. It does indeed feel restorative, and I think I will make a habit of it. There did seem to be a kind of invitation, on that walk.
James. that is a tranquil, idyllic place. It is a far cry from urban Los Angeles.
After 21 years we moved on Thursday. We now look onto redwood trees and a green hedge in front of a new Jewish Orthodox high school.
Congratulations Ron. Your new home sounds great and I hope that you and your wife are happy there.
Beautiful photos. I haven’t been out that way in far too long.
Thanks Nimue. One of my favourite places is the under-the-arches zone between Wallbridge and Bowbridge. I caught it on a good day!