Summer Solstice

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
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:
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.

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67 Comments

  1. Cucumbers are the garden treat I look forward to all winter long. Nothing better than a perfect one still warm from the garden…

    I love thinking of days as a circle.. lovely.

    Reply
  2. Sounds wonderful where you are, Tammy, a world away from our cold, wet island. But we have cucumbers so we can join you in spirit 🙂

    Reply
  3. “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.” Its funny you mention this here on your post because I was just musing about why June was so popular for weddings. Who needs Google with you around? 🙂

    Reply
  4. Sally Mom

     /  June 17, 2012

    I absolutely love the poem, the message and the wonderful salad idea. Quioa tabouli tonight with a lot of cucumber and mint. Think I will throw in some feta!
    Thanks for a lovely time on your blog, Tammy!

    Reply
  5. What a lovely post, Tammy! And I want to try the cucumber salad . . it sounds better than mine by far! 🙂

    Reply
  6. Valaincort

     /  June 17, 2012

    Love the recipe, but love the prayer even more! Thanks, Tammy. 🙂
    (Christopher from CCOC)

    Reply
  7. Oh my – I absolutely love cucumber and onions and feta cheese! I just never thought to add mint leaves into the mix, but thank you so much for the idea! This sounds lovely!

    Reply
  8. I would have never thought to put mint leaves with cucumbers. Sounds awesome. I can hardly wait to get some of all of the ingredients and go for it.. and I was just at the store today. Oh well!

    Reply
  9. We’re going to celebrate summer solstice next weekend at an overnight/sleepaway garlic braiding party at our CSA. I’m very excited about it.
    The cucumber salad with mint sounds great!

    Reply
  10. What nice thoughts on the solstice! This is my favorite time of the year. I love the prayer, and the salad sounds wonderful. Thank you!

    Reply
  11. Lisa H

     /  June 17, 2012

    With the summer heat, cucumbers provide such a cooling effect. Your recipe sounds yummy and we will certainly try it! We also like cucumbers in water, too. I have plucked two Armenian cucumbers (which actually are a melon and not a cucumber!) and mix it with sesame oil, miso and red pepper flakes.
    Beautiful poem.

    Reply
  12. Very interesting information, Tammy. Thank you for sharing. The cucumber salad recipe sounds delicious. I like simple recipes, and cucumbers are refreshing. Blessings to you…

    Reply
  13. I love your article Tammy, it’s wonderful. Of course we are celebrating the Winter Solstice and the shortest day and longest night… however, next week the days start to get longer and we are only a few weeks away from Spring… Yeaaaaah! Enjoy your summer, and thanks for sharing… I love cucumber, and will definitely try the salad, thanks.

    Reply
  14. The temps may reach 95 here by Wednesday or Thursday. It’s so cool right now that I’m finding that hard to believe! If so, this salad will be on the dinner table.

    Reply
  15. It’s raining here but you makes me have a mood for Summer Solstice celebration 🙂 The salad recipe sounds simple and fabulous 🙂

    Reply
  16. I love summer! And all the fruits and vegetables and cool things to do, even the work. And I rejoice in the Solstice, I rejoice at the Winter Solstice. I don’t rejoice at the long nights only the long days!

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
    http://deltacountyhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com

    Reply
  17. I know what I’m doing with my cucumbers this week!!

    Reply
  18. So nice to meet you, Tammy and thanks for stopping by my blog today! I was checking out YOUR blog and am enjoying it quite a bit. We seem to have many similar thoughts and interests 🙂 Where are you that it’s perfect Gazpacho weather? Looks like Southwest somewhere?

    Reply
    • Thanks Daily. It’s great to have you here. I’m in AZ where it is 107 at 7:47 pm.

      Reply
      • We went to Arizona for our Spring break…Scottsdale and Sedona. It was fabulous. The kids were blown away by the beauty of it all. My little one just asked the other day “if it’s this hot here, what is it in Arizona??” 🙂

        Reply
  19. We enjoyed bonfires all around a bay last Saturday night when a nearby community (of Scandinavian heritage) did their annual Fyr Bal celebration. Your photo is beautiful–so cool and fresh, a perfect foil for summer!

    Reply
    • Thanks. I usually just post a photo but I blurred the edges and added a few effects.

      Reply
  20. I like cucumber sandwiches. And baby cukes – they are so sweet.

    Reply
  21. The cucumber somehow is the fresh crispy essence of summer solstice… good choice for this post! I love that St Francis poem, and the idea of the “circle of days.” It is good to celebrate a long sun. I wish Christians had more appreciation of celebrating these miracles of nature, the magnificence of God’s glorious sun hanging in the sky all these hours. In any case, I know that you and I will be celebrating! 🙂

    Reply
    • Cucumbers are the essence of summer. I agree about the celebrating of these moments – maybe I’ll start a movement? 🙂

      Reply
  22. what a great & tasty salad! I love the combo fo cucumbers & feta!!
    I also love that song of the Levellers!

    Reply
    • Oh good.Thanks Sophie. I wondered if I should have posted the song but at least you and I liked it.

      Reply
  23. Hey Tammy: quick question. Do you happen to know of a good or great vegetarian sandwich recipe? Something that can also be filling? The problem with the ones I’ve made before is that they left me still hungry aftewards. Thanks Tammy!

    Reply
  24. yesterday I think we rejoiced in knowing that from today, the nights will slowly start to get shorter and the days longer 🙂

    Reply
  25. Loved this post. Thank you so much for it! It always fills me with awe when I think of the beautiful rituals and celebrations which have emerged from culture. It’s a shame that we don’t have a solstice tradition in Germany, but a friend of mine who is from Sweden will celebrate tonight.

    Reply
  26. fivereflections

     /  June 24, 2012

    I love celebrating both winter and summer solstice!
    I wish I could send you a real ocean breeze in this comment…
    David in Maine USA

    Reply
  27. Wonderful tribute to the “turning of the wheel” and the circle of life.

    Reply
  28. Great photo!

    We drove the a small town on our recent vacation and saw some weirdly dressed teenagers, then we saw a sign for a party, we had forgotten that it was summer solstice 😉

    Reply
  29. Yum! I absolutely love Feta. Anything with it and Ricotta. Btw, although there are so such festivals to celebrate summer on this part of the world, we do celebrate spring 🙂 In our language, its called poila Boishakh.

    Reply
    • Does the prayer apply to you also? I thought it was written from a very spiritual yet non-discipline place?

      Reply
  30. Thanks for the shout out!

    Reply
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