Yesterday was the summer solstice here. We exchanged small, heartfelt gifts, then went to the shore, where the sunlight thumped like a timeless heartbeat and the grass bit at our feet. This is prickle season.
And this is how we count our year through - not with winter, summer, and so forth. But with prickles, different wind directions, condensation in the mornings, pohutukawa blossoms, leaf-shedding. Because what does summer or winter mean any more?
They say summer came late here this year. Last week, we were shivering at the beach in wild storms. But although the idea of summer may have been late, the beach winds were right on time. Same as every December. Same as rain this week, and red trees, and crowded supermarkets. The climate may be changing, but we still have prickles before solstice. And that is why we count seasons with our feet and our hearts instead of old charts.
It's also one reason why we no longer celebrate Christmas. When everyone else is talking about tables laden with food, and snow against their lamplit windows, we are eating ice cream and complaining of the heat. The soul of the celebration is empty for us. We are experiencing Light in all its frightening, majestic force right when we're being told to celebrate its tender birth. I prefer to meet the divine where it finds me.
Right now, that means standing cautiously on sharp grass beneath a fierce sky that one day has me cowering and sweating, and the next swaying wet and shaky in its barbaric embrace. I am a subject, a priestess, to this Love. In six months, in the musty dark, I will be its midwife. I do not want to follow traditions that are upside down for me. I want to live my spiritual relationship authentically, grounded where I am, in whatever tiny season that buds in the heart of life. Because more than anything I am one with the earth in response to its sky - I am the bride.
And so are you. Lying in the snow to make angels. Breathing in cold, exhaling your own body warmth. Going down on your knees before a child that is like the soul of a star in dirty darkness. From summer and across the wheel of life I wave to you, my sister in love.