Summer Solstice for the northern hemisphere starts a week from today. Here in SoCal, the sky is overcast and the temperature is in the low to mid-60s. Being from the northeast as I am, I try to tie the seasons to hours of sunlight rather than temperature or growing seasons.
“California has four seasons,” says husband Sven. “Flood, mudslide, earthquake and fire.”
I figure our Norse ancestors would like SoCal because despite these regularly-scheduled natural disasters, you can plant and harvest year round. This kind of detracts from the religious significance usually assigned to the solstices and equinoxes.
Or does it? Winter runs from December to March. During these months, it tends to be chilly and damp; one friend of ours came to San Diego in a little sundress on January to escape the snowy Rockies in Utah. Oh boy, was she in for an unpleasant surprise! March is usually more of the same; our kindred ended up having its Ostara celebration indoors with sliding doors open and letting in even more rain and chill and wet.
April delivers on the promise of Ostara until the so-called “May Gray” and “June Gloom” kick in. July, August and September are warm, dry and sunny.
Winter Finding is ironic because October is usually hot, and dangerous because of the threat of wildfires. It’s also one of the times of year when produce is most available here. November and December are cool and sunny, and Jul (Yule) tends to be bright and comfortable until the January rains come again.
So while we’re not quite as reversed as our brothers and sisters in Australia, we’re still “off” from what most people consider the seasons.
Last year I decided to get more in touch with nature. My actions would include, but not be limited to, natural health for myself and mindfulness of what was going on in the changing flora and fauna around me. This has been paying off. The hours of sunlight never vary in marking out time. This is something to be celebrated.
While heathens don’t usually celebrate Beltane, that being a Celtic holy day, we do in many traditions celebrate May Day. It was in May that I noticed all the symbols of spring coming up around me. To my utter delight, the area around my office building and gymnasium is full of hares. I’ve seen rabbits around aplenty; they don’t have to go to ground in the winter here. But these were big, bold and brassy hares, twice the size of rabbits with longer ears, longer legs and so, so fast. They look at human passerbys with utter disdain, knowing they can outrun even our cars.
Here in June plants are in full bloom. The honeysuckles that grow all over our part of the county have a scent that can range from pleasant to thick and overwhelming. I had never really noticed them before. It’s also cherry season and strawberry season, sweetening the month even more.
I’ve resolved to hit my local library and check out some books on California plant life. I understand there are some palm trees identical to those in the Pleistocene in the canyons to the west of the city. The only problem with being aware of the environment around me is that I started this so late in my residence here.