A little tradition of mine, on the eve of the solstices, is to get equipped with a camera and go walking. An evening walk on a blissful summers' day will always provide you with a melting pot of gold and dainty watercolour-like strokes of pale pinks, purples and blues, but I find the solstices to be particularly spectacular. Our walk, which meandered through overgrown, disused pathways and heavily worn dirt tracks, sent us weaving between fields of wheat and barley in search of some of the richest features of the solstice sunset. I am still perfecting the 'big camera' on trips out like this, producing varied results, but we were graced with plenty of time to soak up our surroundings, as darkness only just began to fall at half past nine. The golden hour seems to last for two on the longest day, marking the end of the first day of summer which begins with a 4.30am sunrise.
While I celebrated the arrival of summer with a long walk, I noticed this year that many others decided to engage in the ancient tradition of lighting a bonfire instead. It was believed that lighting fires on Midsummers' Eve brought purity to the surrounding environment, ridding it of evil spirits and misfortune. Despite these views proving perhaps very different to those of most people in the modern day, I was very taken by hearing that people had decided to gather round and light the fires again in the name of summer. I like to keep traditions alive myself and may consider a celebratory evening for next years' solstice...as well as fitting in my walk somewhere!
You can read more about the celebrations of summer, including the solstice, in the latest issue of Creative Countryside magazine, its fourth instalment focusing on the theme of 'Light', which I'm proud to be a contributor of. There, you'll find my piece of narrative in which I wrote about the trials of harvest time and the importance of giving thanks to those who work tirelessly through the brightest season to provide us with food that is full of goodness and high in nutritious value. Along with my contribution and plenty of gorgeous imagery and artwork, you'll also have the pleasure of reading more creative and educational pieces of writing inspired by slow living and rural lifestyle. This issue has already grown beyond its predecessors, having doubled in size with the increasing number of creatives getting involved. If you are intrigued, I strongly recommend you give it a read, as well as its previous issues.
I hope you enjoy looking at these images and that you were peaceful and content on the longest day (or the shortest, for you readers in the southern hemisphere!). Now make the most of the summertime since the clock is already counting down to the next solstice!