It is the dawn of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. This midsummer dawn is a time of transitions. For a moment the sun stands still, before the year turns into another season. Later today, the moon will become full, the first time in half a century that it has done so on a summer solstice. It is the fourth full moon in a season, something that happens seven times within a 19 year cycle. High tide coincides with dawn, reaching its own zenith before ebbing. At spring equinox, I was at the other end of the causeway, marooned on the island with the seals. Today the tide resists me, barring entry.
In the west, last night’s moon is setting. It hangs suspended, an amber globe, almost at its potential. In the east, the horizon hints at sunrise. A slash of yellow silhouettes gloomy clouds. Pinprick lights glow from ships far out at sea. Clouds dwarf the ships as though pressing them downwards. They look small and lonely out there.
As the light grows, sand martins flicker across the water and back to their burrows in the cliffs. There are some ducks that might be eiders in the distance. But there are no bird calls, only the relentless growl of the sea. A flock of geese flies silently overhead, in the midst of changing positions in their V. The sky is all luminous pastels and foreboding greys. A yellow stripe daubs the horizon. The clouds play at masquerade: brush-strokes, wire wool, snow-clad peaks and blotched fur adorning the sky.
This is a time for empowerment and some would say the combination of a fourth full moon with the solstice emphasises that power. It’s a time to renew energy, to inhale the lightness of the season, because after today we’re already heading towards darkness. But there has been little in the way of sun recently and much of drizzly rain and grey skies. This morning, I don’t feel empowered, I feel tired. And yet, there is a simmering power in the silence, if not of the sun, then of sea and sky.
Our world has both expanded and contracted this week. We shared home, food, lives and experiences with a visitor from America, reminding us that we are different but much the same. But our world has suddenly grown smaller. We’ve chosen to withdraw from Europe and become an island again. In this season of looking outwards, many of us have chosen to look the other way. This is a country enclosed by sea and sky. It would be easy to view it as a barrier and this island as a fortress. But when I stand at the sea’s edge, I see only an expanse of possibility. It’s what allows me to breathe.
Summer is a time of plenty, when we enjoy the bounty of what is around us. But not for everyone and there’s a fear that there isn’t enough to go around. The divisions are showing, between young and old, between those with and without. It seems that we are in chaos and uncertainty as we confront the descent into winter. In town, I’m surprised that people are going about their business as though nothing has happened. This is another transition – we stood still as the votes came in with another dawn. Now the sun recedes, even as summer comes, and we as a people are withdrawing too.
It’s time to collect what we can from the summer to empower and sustain us into the winter. To gather our sustenance from the light, the heat, the bounty of the land and the swelling of our imaginations. I can’t help but feel sad today at what we may have given up, but I take my sustenance from the quiet power of the solstice dawn. From the wide open sky and the potential of the horizon. Transition always comes and in itself, it’s neither good nor bad, only a change from one way of being to another.