Happy Solstice, everyone!
Today my four year old was walking around carrying an alarm clock, saying, “my mischief clock is about to go off. When my mischief clock goes off, that’s how I know it’s time to start my mischief.”
Little does he know, he’s right on time!
As you may know, Wednesday, June 21st is the summer solstice. Did you know that Summer Solstice is also associated with Midsummer’s Eve? That would be the same Midsummer that Shakespeare was referring to in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
And if you’ve ever seen or studied that play, chances are you remember some of the magic that ensued.
Lovers led astray by fairy magic… A proud fairy Queen brought low by mischief… (Mischief worthy of my four year old son, no less!) A story rich enough in humor, wonder, and strangeness to bring us laughter and wonder alike.
Shakespeare didn’t invent the fairy magic of Midsummer’s Eve. Rather, he drew on his viewer’s familiarity with a longstanding tradition.
On Midsummer’s Eve day in long ago England, rural families spent the afternoon gathering armloads of wild flowers. They used these flowers to decorate a large cross, which they danced and sang songs around.
Then, at night, they gathered for a bonfire.
But the sweetest part of this day was for children.
On Midsummer’s Eve, little ones would seek out a corner of the garden where they believed that the fairies made their home. There, they would leave their offerings of cakes or other handmade treasures.
In the morning they would return and find that the offering had been taken, and a sweet treat or treasure left in its place.
In my family, we’ve carried this tradition into the present day with a few modifications. 🙂
We hold our “bonfire” around a store bought fire pit ($30 at Lowes! Who knew?) And because my husband loves grilling, it also involves shishkabob. Why not?
For our offerings, we spend the afternoon making mudcakes. This is one of my children’s favorite regular outdoor activities. But for Midsummer, we add brightly colored petals. The children love arranging these into bright mandalas.
I love listening to my son as he scours the garden for other treats to leave for them. A few of his favorite things to prepare for them are “mouse corn” (the broken off pistil of a calla lily, and “mouse broccoli” (a tiny clump of unbloomed buds from our hydrangea).
But the best part might just be when they creep out in their pajamas in the morning to see whether the sprites have come.
And the truth is, in these moments, my children aren’t the only ones who experience wonder.
I do, too.
Because these are the moments that bring us together as a family, in real felt experience of the passage of time.
I notice the birdsongs.
The apples finally swelling on the tree, for the first time since the drought started years ago.
The joy on the faces of my children.
So I guess you could say I’m feeling the fairy magic too.
I’ve got a new song about fairies I was hoping to share with you in this post. But alas, I haven’t been able to get a good video yet, so it will have to wait… But it will be on our new recording, coming in two weeks. I’ll look forward to sharing it with you then.
And in the meantime, here’s another song I wrote about Midsummer Night’s Dream. I wrote this song for adults, not children. But this time, it still feels right to share it. After all, this time of year is for us grown ups as well. 🙂
Thanks for reading! And if you’re in the bay area, join us for Meadowlark Music Class. Our summer session starts in two weeks. I’m looking forward to singing with you and your little ones!