a midsummer day

6.20.24 ~ solstice sunrise in Bolin Forest

Living in a heavily wooded neighborhood I only get a peek through the trees to catch a sunrise. It happened at 6:00 am on the summer solstice here. Hours later, for solar noon I took my flower fairy out to the moss garden for a little photo shoot. There was a small patch of sunlight available to highlight the very short shadow she was casting.

1:17 pm, solar noon
shortest shadow of the year!

As I was photographing the fairy, mama deer brought her fawn by to check out the scene. It was so hot outside!

mama deer and her fawn

In the evening, for some reason, the dew point dropped and even though it was still hot, it became much less humid. Midsummer magic? We packed up the grandchildren and headed to the Piedmont Wildlife Center. None of us had been there before and they were having a summer solstice celebration. What a great time we had! We got a closer look at some of the birds and turtles in rehab.

Piedmont Wildlife Center
barred owl
red-shouldered or red-tailed (?) hawk

Katherine showed a lot of interest in the raptors and Finn was enchanted with the turtles.

box turtle
another box turtle

We were all delighted with Pumpkin, a sweet little opossum. She’s full grown but only about a third of the size of an average adult. She had a rough start in life. The kids asked all kinds of questions, like, does she eat ants? The answer was not usually, unless they happened to be on something else she was eating, kind of like pepper or another seasoning. And opossums only eat the ticks that are in their fur when they’re grooming themselves.

Pumpkin on her running wheel

We had a little walk through the woods and saw a few more birds and animals tucked inside their enclosures. Eventually we got to the solstice campfire where the kids could make their own s’mores. A man playing his guitar gently on the side added to the peaceful mood.

Finn roasted a marshmallow for me, too
Katherine displaying one of her perfectly roasted marshmallows

After a while we were invited to participate in a little solstice ritual: writing on a piece of paper what we wished to let go of from the old year and what we wanted to welcome into the next year. Then we burned our papers in the campfire. It was a meaningful way to pause and take stock of our intentions. I noticed Katherine took it very seriously while Finn, being four years younger, was naturally interested in other things.

a small painted rock along our path

The plan was to go to Maple View Farm next, for ice cream and to view the sunset. But, we finished our ice cream (sorbet for me) an hour before the sun was due to set, so we called it a day and headed home. It was wonderful celebrating the summer solstice for the first time with our grandchildren.

Maple View Farm
(an hour before solstice sunset)

29 thoughts on “a midsummer day”

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed this post, Leelah. Many hugs and best wishes to you, my friend. 😊

    1. It takes time to put down new roots, but finding ways like this to share nature and the seasons with the little ones here in our new home is making it easier. 💕

      1. I sympathize– moving after decades of building friendships can’t be easy. Hope you find some good classes or senior activities to join. I like nature classes at the local Audubon and movie nights at the library. 🙂

        1. Thanks so much for the suggestions, Eliza. I found the local Audubon chapter and they meet at the botanical garden once a month (except in the summer) and have lots of classes and outings. I’m looking forward to getting involved. 🙂

  1. I simply LOVE that owl — such a gorgeous bird! The opossum? Not so much. They give me the willies! And what a great tradition — celebrating the summer solstice by letting go of the past and focusing on the future. Kind of like New Year’s Day, without all the fanfare!

    1. I saw a barred owl land in the trees near our balcony one afternoon back in CT and the thrill of seeing it sticks with me. I’ve heard them in the woods here in NC at night. Seeing this one was exciting! They can’t release him due to a permanently injured wing. I liked the tradition, too, and was pleasantly surprised that my granddaughter was into it as well. 🙂

  2. What a delightful way to welcome the Summer Solstice and it cooled off just so you could enjoy it with the grandchildren. I like the fairy and your Mama and her fawn coming to visit Barbara. Are you allowed to give the deer water or do they glean water from places where people have a birdbath? My friend in NY lives near a wooded area and the deer families sometimes go to her yard in gather on the grass in the shade, but have a little birdseed and drink from the birdbath first. She laughs at them doing that, but then has to run out and fill it again for the birds as they lap all the water up.

    I liked the creatures in rehab that you got to meet. That’s a beautiful barred owl. I’ve never seen one in the wild, just the rehabbed owl at a Metropark. You saw it as well the hawk and turtles up close – I’d be just as excited as you and the grandchildren to see that. All in all a wonderful excursion and one of the reasons you are glad you made the move last year and started anew.

    1. I don’t know about giving the deer water to drink but we have a creek close by so I don’t think they have any problem finding water. One day I did see a deer drinking from our birdbath after it rained but it’s usually bone dry. I can picture the deer gathering in your friend’s yard for shade and a drink. Yesterday when I opened the curtain in my bedroom there was a deer lying on the ground outside my window. She looked up at me and our eyes met for quite a while. She was so beautiful, I was spellbound. I don’t think it was the mama deer because there was no fawn with her.

      I’ve only seen one barred owl in the wild, back in CT. It swooped down and landed in the arborvitae behind our balcony. The sight of it took my breath away. When I told my sister about it later she said, “it was after your songbirds, you know.” She was probably right but I still felt honored to see it for those moments. Anyhow, I’m glad we found this wildlife center, it’s about a half hour drive from our home, and it looks like there will be other programs throughout the year.

      1. I’m sure you will be visiting this place often – it looked like an interesting event. I mentioned to Jeff about the hawk in the tree as he feeds the birds in the backyard and gives peanuts and seed on the front sidewalk as well. The squirrels and small birds are sitting ducks. We had Peregrine Falcons that went after small birds a few years ago.

        That makes sense the deer access the creek – I didn’t realize you were that close to water. I would love the experience of locking eyes with deer so many times. My friend Carol has taken photos of the deer using her backyard to lounge around. Carol subscribes to “Misfits Markets” which delivers boxes of imperfect fruits and veggies … she subscribes to a weekly delivery. If the produce is “too far gone” for her family, she feeds it to the one orphan deer, who always shows up by himself, not with a herd or its mama. So, if one day she has no bruised produce to give it, it looks in the window at her, so she gives it cat food. She feeds the local ferals as well.

        1. There is an intricate balance between predator and prey that mother nature works to maintain. It’s sad for us when we get attached to one species, especially when it is prey for another. But they all need to eat and evolution has brought them to where they are. Sigh. Your friend is very kind to help out the deer that visit her. They are such gentle creatures, they’ve been my spirit animal since I was a little girl. But I know coyotes go after sick or injured deer and the fawns are vulnerable. It’s probably a good thing I don’t see what goes on deep in the woods.

          1. We are both gentle souls and love nature – I agree it is best we don’t see predator(s)/prey deep in the woods. It would break our hearts. Carol has been feeding, giving fresh water and providing shelter (with wooden shelter boxes) to feral cats for years. When she is able, she traps them and takes them to a feral cat rescue that provides them indoor shelter and tries to socialize them before adopting them out. She worries about those cats like they were her own.

            Funny story. I have heard how smart crows and ravens are and I have heard that they will “gift” people that they trust or help them out. So there is a new raven in her neighborhood and it sees Carol filling up the birdfeeders and birdbath, giving food/water to the orphan deer and feral cats and so it follows her around the yard while she does these tasks. She also feeds the squirrels peanuts sometimes, so she gave the raven a peanut. It ate it and continued following her around, flying from tree to tree or along the porch rail. So every day it gets four peanuts now. The raven starts bringing her “gifts” but the gifts are stuffed into the garage gutter … the gutter clogged up, so Carol climbed on the ladder and found all kinds of treasures, including a wash cloth, a sock, an empty cigarette package, all stuffed up there and clogging up the drain. She has to climb up there on a regular basis to clean out the “gifts”. Her hubby uses a walker and right now is in an assisted care facility as he’s taken a few falls due to back issues, so some household maintenance she does to not rely on the handyman as much.

          2. I’m reading a book right now called The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year by Margaret Renkl. She says that it is a birding tradition that the first bird you see on the first day of the new year sets the tone for your next twelve months. It was a crow for her on the year she decided to journal about nature in her back yard. It’s a lovely book for nature lovers like us! She lives in Tennessee so her climate and the wildlife and wildflowers seems similar to the ones in my new climate here in North Carolina. I love your friend Carol’s story about her raven’s hoarding habit! I imagine she never has a dull moment in her busy life caring for all those wild and feral creatures. That’s so sad about her husband. My father had a couple of stays in rehab after a couple of falls. The older we get the more fragile we seem.

          3. Are you enjoying that book Barbara? I saw it advertised on Facebook last year and ordered it from Amazon, but have not read it yet. I bought it because it got good reviews by nature lovers and I read a few pages online and it looked interesting. I thought it would be nice to read, then feature it in a blog post in conjunction with the “new and improved backyard” which, as you know, has not yet happened. So the book stays tucked away for a little longer. That is a nice concept about the first bird in the new year – interesting.

            A fellow blogger, Wayne of Tofino Photography, has a following of Ravens. He lives in a small town and uses his bike to get around. His Raven friends, which he has named Robbie and Roberta, will see him and fly alongside him as he pedals around town. Sometimes he gives them treats. They just had chicks and he took some photos of them dotting a tree and had them in a blog post. Wayne said Robbie and Roberta had gathered their offspring to show them to him. 🙂

            Yes, Carol does have a busy life, between caring for the ferals, deer and trying to keep the raccoons and squirrels out of the feeder as well. She said her husband is having back surgery on July 15th … hopefully, that will make him more mobile as he is using either a wheelchair or a walker now. Yes, it is sad to realize that fact … falling is bad for seniors.

          4. I am loving the book, Linda! The chapters are short and each describes a brief visit outside with whatever wildlife she encounters on a given day. Each chapter would make a great blog post if she had a blog. 🙂 Apparently she is an opinion writer for the New York Times, contributing an essay every Monday.
            I’ll have to subscribe to Wayne’s blog again. So many blogs! It’s hard to keep up with them all. I hope Carol’s husband’s surgery will improve his quality of life and bring him back home.

          5. Well I’ll look forward to reading it Barbara. I put it away after the landscape project didn’t materialize and never started it. Interesting as to her livelihood. I had pictured having many new opportunities to see nature in the backyard, like she has written about. I like short stories like that … you can pick up the book and just immerse yourself in it as a little “getaway” time.

            Wayne had not posted in a while, but then did two posts about the Ravens recently. I got behind in Reader recently – you get behind one day, then it’s difficult to catch up. I subscribe to too many blogs too, but I have lost a few bloggers along the way, although one blogger, Laurie, no longer posts, but continues to follow those she interacted with before.

  3. Your solstice celebration looks perfect. It’s amazing how much joy a person can get just being out in nature + eating a toasted marshmallow.

    1. It was a pretty amazing celebration for all of us. Eating that marshmallow toasted just for me by my little grandson was a special moment!

  4. Such a fun filled day with your family! It is good to see the grandkids engaged in it all. Now I want s’mores on my grocery list! I do have some toll house chocolate chip cookies ready to bake in the fridge.

    The turtles made me smile. And I’m glad that pumpkin isn’t living under my house. I especially loved seeing the owl and hearing the questions & answers from the care takers.

    That is a very interesting solstice ritual. Did Katherine share with you what she wrote or keep it private? Did you share what you wrote with her or keep it private?

    I don’t remember the age of your grandchildren. I love seeing glimpses of their growth. It appears that their parents did not join you on this adventure. And Tim must have been somewhere! Best grandparents always include ice cream or sorbet treats!

    I love that you thought of and took the time the photograph your garden fairy in a halo of sunshine at noon to illustrate the shortest shadow! Something I never think about. And so fitting to be surrounded by mossy greens.

    I would not do well living in the dense trees where there’s so little sunlight that green moss grows. I lived nine months in Nacogdoches, TX when I was 18 years old, crying almost everyday experiencing depression and learned that was SAD the need for sunlight. I had friends, family, schoolwork I enjoyed. It rained constantly there, so it was not beneficial for me. So I moved to San Marcos, TX and I improved and lived in that areas for many years. I hope that you will not suffer from SAD.

    Yorkie and I were able to walk the bay sea wall this morning. The water is still higher than normal. There was no breeze. We saw a very large crab, the type that people eat. We usually don’t see these on our sea walls. And there was a dolphin swimming very close to us. Though it was hot, we had a very fun outing!

    1. Did you get your s’mores, TD? 🙂 I have a feeling Finn, age 5, loves turtles as much as Tim does. I agree, let nature stay outside and not living under (or in) our houses! Katherine, age 9, kept her solstice writing to herself. Finn was so thirsty and full of marshmallows that he passed on the ice cream when we got to the farm, and chose a bottle of chocolate milk to guzzle down. A couple of years ago I photographed Grandfather Frost’s shadow in the snow on the winter solstice, the longest shadow of the year. For some reason the idea for the opposite came to me again now. Moss instead of snow. https://www.ingebrita.net/2020/12/midwinter-in-self-quarantine/ On Friday three arborists for a couple of hours were here to cut down two big trees. I could watch them from the bay window in my kitchen and it was so interesting watching them work with their various tools and machines. I don’t think I suffer from SAD. I grew up in the woods so I feed off the chemicals and the energy trees give off. When I get cabin fever a walk in the woods is all I need to feel better. And it looks like I will be dealing with cabin fever a lot during the summer here! I’m glad you found a place with enough sunlight for you! And of course, you have the added benefit of the sea air. I do miss the healing power of living by the sea.

      1. I have placed the items to make s’mores in my online shopping cart for my next order! It is so fun to hear about your grandchildren. That’s smart that Katherine kept her solace writing private.

        Nice photo of Grandfather Frost! I had not found you that long ago.

        The arborists would definitely be interesting for me to watch too! Glad you could watch from inside in the comfort of your home.

        I’m glad that you don’t suffer from SAD. Cabin fever isn’t something that I suffer from. I have found though that as I have aged that I need my inside quiet time from about noon until 2:00. I close all the blinds, turn off the TV or noise, tell Yorkie time to take her doggo nap. And I lay in my bed. Sometimes I write comments, sometimes I think, and sometimes I nap too. The only thing I hear is my AC kick on and off, and of course myself. It’s a bit weird, but nice for me.

        I would miss living close to water! I’m only a mile away. But I can’t see the water from my house. I wonder what sea level I’m at. My property isn’t in flood plain zone, surprisingly! We are preparing for the Hurricane that is currently hitting Haiti today that was a hurricane 5 yesterday when it made its first landfall. We won’t know which direction it will take due to the high pressure movements which will determine its path. Local weather people are saying to not panic. But people are preparing and boarding up, sand bagging and placing reinforcements.

        When hurricane Harvey hit we only had hours to voluntary evacuate or find your safe place because it changed direction instantly and wasn’t expected to hit here. Hurricane Hanna hit when I was in this house. I stayed and lived through both of those hurricanes. I think people remember that and are taking smart precautions. I will stay here at the house and preparing my home accordingly. This is only the first week of hurricane season and it lasts until November 1s. So here, we go!

        My thrill this week is that a Cardinal made her nest right outside my window! I watched the pair fly back and forth making the nests. Now she has been sitting in it for a solid two days. I watch her from my window with binoculars. Her faces are hilarious! Sometimes it say ACK like she just laid an egg or UGH THE HEAT is suffocating. I understand it’s about a 14 day process, so I hope they make it through the storms ahead.

        Forth of July will be hotter than a firecracker!!!

        1. Like you, we lived about a mile from the beach in Connecticut, and we were 20 feet above sea level. We only evacuated for two hurricanes, Gloria in 1985 and Bob in 1991. Both times we returned home finding no damage to our homes. I’m keeping my eye on Beryl and hoping it doesn’t get too close to you. 🤞

          1. Oh yes, I remember Hurricanes Bob as we were heading to Cape Cod by car. I think that we have chatted about that. But I don’t remember Hurricane Glory as we lived in Austin TX that year in our tiny world. You were very lucky! The devastation that we saw and experienced with Bob on the Cape was surreal indeed. “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best” as my Dad would recite. 😳🤞

          2. I do remember talking with you about Hurricane Bob (1991) just before Hurricane Henri came to us in the summer of 2021. 🙂 The devastation from Bob was much worse on Cape Cod than it was in Connecticut, where it was bad enough. My grandparents were in their 80s, living in Dennis Port, and we were so worried about them but they and their house came through just fine. Tough old Yankees. 😉 I hope Hurricane Beryl doesn’t hit you too hard!

          3. Ha! I have not heard the terminology of Yankies for decades! Are we allowed to say that word? But yeah your grandparents were certainly tough and strong!

            Yesterday I spent some time researching Hurricanes and read that Bob took out power lines and it was two weeks that Cape Cod was out of power which outraged people enough to make the power company from a private enterprise to a public owned power authority. Bob actually made landfall on Rhode Island. What I vividly remember is that we were trying to find food because we were essentially living in our car traveling. All the trees were horrible and no power, no ice to persevere food and nothing open for business. Yet we made it to Hyannis Port to take our six seater aircraft flight to Martha’s Vineyard where we were received with the Boston Pops playing music in the gardens of our HEB and breakfast hotel and it seemed as if nothing happened there. Our hotel room was ready and there was no mention of the hurricane. Wild what happened there and what I can remember.

          4. According to Wikipedia:
            “The meaning of Yankee has varied over time. In the 18th century, it referred to residents of New England descended from the original English settlers of the region. Mark Twain used the word in this sense the following century in his 1889 novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. As early as the 1770s, British people applied the term to any person from the United States. In the 19th century, Americans in the southern United States employed the word in reference to Americans from the northern United States, though not to recent immigrants from Europe.”
            My grandparents were definitely residents of New England descended from the original English settlers. People in New England say that word all the time. I had a Yankee Weather Rock hanging on my balcony railing for years, which my son and daughter-in-law got us on a trip to New Hampshire.
            Now you’ve got me wondering. In an antique store down here we got to talking to the owner. When we mentioned we moved down here from Connecticut he said, “Ah, Yankees!” His tone was friendly and pleasant and I took no offense but now I’m wondering, was he insulting us? I hope not.

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