Summer Solstice (June 20, 2016)

June 21st forever remains for me the customary date of the Summer Solstice. Although the day is mostly known as the first day of summer, it importantly also marks the day the sun stops (sol – “sun” and stit – “stopped, stationary” (from the verb “sistere”) marking the sun at its highest point in the sky at noon and the longest day of the year before it begins its descent to the lowest point in the sky and the shortest day.

So, depending how one regards the event, it is both a beginning and an end, the fulcrum upon  which things pivot. This year (2016) also marks the infrequent coincidence (about once every fifty years) of a full moon (called the “Strawberry Moon” apparently because it marks the start of the strawberry season) and the Summer Solstice. Though I would like to have seen the full moon last evening (June 20th was the technical Summer Solstice this year), I didn’t.  So I’ll go to my grave without every having done so.  We did however have fresh strawberries for dessert last evening.

For the past several days the weather has been uncommonly hot (34℃) and sunny.  The air is balmy, thick and soft, often blown about by high winds and threatening skies from which predicted storms and tornadoes never materialized, replaced instead by blue skies, fluffy white clouds and more heat. Because we were fortunate enough to have had some rain recently, everything is shown to full advantage. The countryside is lush and verdant; and the water along the St. Lawrence River is the colour of blue sapphire.

Our seven-month sojourn in Ontario from mid-April to early November obliges us to keep an eye on the background bureaucracy which affects our lives, things like passport, driver’s licence and health card renewals; and also primary health matters (eye exams, dental work and routine medical attendances). Though the space allotted for these concerns is generous by any standard, I find my usual obsessiveness compels me to dwell upon them until completion. Because my birthday is in December, the administrative renewals can only be addressed within 180 days.  Although notification of the mandatory renewals is sent by the respective government offices two months before the expiry date (which coincides with my birthday), that would of course mean that I would be pushing the time frame very tightly were I to wait until the last moment. Accordingly I began the process in June to accommodate the 180 day period. This morning marked attendance to the last of the renewals and I now await arrival in the mail of the three official documents.

We are in the throes of addressing our primary health matters. This intense preoccupation breeds an unqualified sense of self-absorption and is as such moderately embarrassing. Nonetheless it is both material and important so we are undeterred in our prosecution. Our diligence is propelled by both age and necessity. I have even a quizzical interest in the outcome since lately I have jettisoned all prescription and non-prescription drugs.  Certainly the endurance of constant, low-level pain has more than once prompted me to reconsider the advantages of Aspirin (my historical palliative) but likewise I am curious to know whether I can defeat my ailments through herbal medicine (in particular Curcumin) and massage therapy. The corollary to having quit drugs is that one faces the unadulterated condition of one’s body which, while at times painful, also pointedly facilitates the identification of the exact source of discomfort (something which is not always clear when one is globally drugged). I suspect however once I get my physician’s latest reading of my recent blood work I shall once again embrace the advantages of anti-inflammatory aids. It has never been my tradition to make a hero of myself at the cost of temporary and immediate consolation.

Although we get out almost every day for a 45-minute bicycle ride we essentially lead an insular existence. Occasionally we stop to chat with people along our bicycle route but otherwise our social conventions are few and far between. There has been a decided amortization of most historical alliances and we are not about to reactivate any of them merely for the sake of record. Besides my commitment to my elderly mother absorbs a great deal of my time; and our own personal exigencies have done the same. I suppose that as one is overtaken by the so-called “twilight years” and the burgeoning and perpetual medical concerns it is no surprise that we’ve capitulated to the moderate diversions which now absorb our time. In any event one’s appetite for anything else is very much depressed. This afternoon for example I slept on the couch for a full two hours, something which years ago would have been unheard of (if indeed I had even contemplated doing so). I am now quite happy to retire for the evening with a good book or watch an independent movie on Netflix. Having said that, I hasten to add that we very much enjoy our jaunts around the local countryside; and we are full of anticipation for our tour to St. Andrews-by-the-Sea in early September.  Who knows, we may hatch some further plan in the meantime.  For the moment however we are content to idle away our time in the summer.