It is the time of year when the sun’s rays are directly overhead at 23.5 degrees North of the equator providing the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and a signal that summer has begun. Gardens are blooming. School’s out. Turn on the sprinklers. Eat a popsicle.
Almost every agricultural society has identified the zenith of summer with some type of celebration. It is on June 21st or 22nd and marks the longest day of the year. In fact, the word “solstice” derives from the Latin solstitium, which means “sun stands still.” Since ancient times, the path of the sun was marked and recorded and many believe that early stone circles such as Stonehenge were created to give the rising sun prominence on the day of the solstice.
Those ancient solstice celebrations were often around fertility. In fact, the June moon was referred to as the Honey Moon and to this day, more weddings occur during June than any other month.
In modern times, some celebrations continue with the most popular being those of Scandinavia where darkness doesn’t occur. Another popular spot is Stonehenge itself and you can listen to a tale about this controversial festival in the Leveller’s Battle of the Beanfield. They sing of 1985 when an intolerant Margaret Thatcher sent out police with riot gear to stop festival goers.
Here in the desert, it’s hot. We won’t be celebrating with a bonfire. In fact, on this Father’s day, we’re going to do our best to stay cool. One great way to do that is with the cucumbers that arrived in our CSA this week. To celebrate both blessings and bounty, I leave you with this devotion from Saint Francis de Assisi and a lovely cool cucumber salad recipe.
Lord, we offer thanks and praise for the circle of our days.
Praise for radiant brother sun, who makes the hours around us run.
For sister moon, and for the stars, brilliant, precious, always ours.
Praise for brothers wind and air, serene or cloudy, foul or fair.
For sister water, clear and chaste, useful, humble, good to taste.
For fire, our brother, strong and bright, whose joy illuminates the night.
Praise for our sister, mother earth, who cares for each of us from birth.
For all her children, fierce and mild, for sister, brother, parent, child.
For creatures wild and creatures tame, for hunter, hunted, both the same.
For brother sleep, and sister death, who tend the borders of our breath.
For desert, orchard, rock and tree, for forest, meadow, mountain, sea.
For fruit and flower, plant and bush, for morning robin, evening thrush.
For all your gifts, of every kind, we offer praise with quiet mind.
Be with us, Lord, and guide our ways
Around the circle of our days.
Cucumber and Feta Salad
adapted from Simply Recipes
- 1 lb cucumbers, thinly sliced. (you may want to peel them depending up on the bitterness of the skin)
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced and cut into 1-inch long segments
- 10 mint leaves, thinly sliced
- White vinegar
- Olive oil
- 1/4 pound feta cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Gently toss together the sliced cucumbers, red onion, mint leaves with a little bit of white vinegar and olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Right before serving, sprinkle on crumbled bits of feta cheese. Serve immediately. Vegan? Replace the feta with sliced radishes and black olives.