Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy Summer Solstice

Arthur Rackham, A Midsummer Night's Dream

It's the longest day of the year. And while mid-summer does not have the excitement of spring migration, it is still one of my favorite times of the year.

Evenings are so beautiful now, the gentle gray twilight lingering for an hour. It's an explosion of life and energy -- fledglings popping from the nest, harried parents bringing bugs. Everything is is green. And the dog days of summer are yet to come; there's still a freshness to the land.

Maybe this longest day brings back childhood memories of summer, when those days of vacation still seemed to last forever. My grade school days occurred in the last decade before video games, cable TV, home computers and other electronic time-wasters were available. Cell phones weren't even a glint in some technocrat's eye. No one needed to write books about "Nature Deficit Disorder" -- it was still normal for kids to play outside. I'm not trying to idealize that time--in many ways, the 1970s sucked -- but mid-summer conjures up some sort of happy archetype of ideal childhood.

Or maybe it's just because I love A Mid-Summer Night's Dream so much. Puck's mischief, the sparring fairy king and queen, Oberon and Titania, the star-crossed lovers in the woods, hapless Bottom being changed into a donkey...what's not to love about that play?

Arthur Rackham, "Bottom Wakes Titania"

And from a birding perspective, the summer solstice shows that nothing is static, there are seasons within the seasons. It will feel like summer for weeks to come, but meanwhile, the breeding time is wrapping up, and very soon the shorebirds will begin their trip back from the Arctic. Which means there's always something to look forward to!

In the meantime, I wish you all a happy summer solstice, and sweet mid-summer night's dreams.

Arthur Rackham, "Oberon Meeting Titania"

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
--William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

1 comment:

  1. I love "A Midsummer's Night Dream", and especially the character of Bottom. He was such a decent sort! Great paintings by Arthur Rackham! Today I've been observing both starling and grackle fledglings chasing their poor parents all over the yard, begging for food, and I've been thinking that for many birds, nesting is almost over. Already! Time really does fly when you're having birding fun! MOM