There’s something about an upcoming summer solstice that always seems significant to me, even though I’m past the stage of trampling dewy grasses or indulging in a spot of nuddy-dancing widdershins. Sadly, though – even if it isn’t actually raining – I bet that given the chance, most grown-ups choose to greet the roseate dawn of midsummer with a cup of tea and a faintly bored yawn.
As a child, I would wake with the early light, and lie in bed listening to the sounds of dawn just outside my bedroom window. The soft cooing of turtle doves in the tall fir trees, and the gradual spread of sunlight through the crack in the curtains suggested the best of days to come. Back then, I squandered my riches. I thought that life would hold so many future days like those: that each numbered summer ahead would promise endless freedoms and countless games of ‘It’.
And of course it does, and they do. Except that I have to remember how to ignore the rainclouds and celebrate each glorious day for its perfect impermanence. Sometimes that means stealing time back for some homespun magic.
So today I remembered that the most important reason for having a child at school near a beach is that it would provide an excuse for recalling that rarest of moments – the fun of a child’s midsummer play.
And so we escaped. Crammed into two precious hours after school, we captured an afternoon beside the seaside. The girls played on the helter skelter
giggled over ice cream, counted beach huts
and played ‘It’ with clumps of salt-tangled seaweed.
Four voices shrieked as the swing boats went ever higher…
and then we dug fifty toes into the sand
and left our summer mermaid for the sea to claim tonight.
“Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run”