We held our second event for the Unitarian Earth Spirit Network (UESN) here in Newcastle, on Saturday 21st June, to celebrate the Summer Solstice. Entitled ‘A Midsummer Day’s Dreaming’, we invited our guests to join us in fellowship and to stand still, like the sun at the highest point in its trajectory, and indulge in a little creative day dreaming. The midsummer sun is traditionally said to cast 3 spreading rays of light, representing the spirit of flowing energy, known as Awen. This is a Welsh word meaning ‘inspiration’, most particularly, poetic inspiration. Therefore, we began by sharing and reading various quotes from poetry, prose and songs, hung up on our badminton net for us to read. Once we had all found a quote or two that spoke to us, we settled down to write something inspired by our selection.
‘That feverish July, the air tasted of electricity’
‘a long still afternoon, dreamlike’ (Carol-Ann Duffy)
“I lie on my bed in the beach cottage, trying to nap. It isn’t working. Welcome as they are, the Atlantic ocean breezes just cannot dispel the sultry heat — it must be over ninety outside and it feels almost as hot in here! Oppressed, I distract myself with the water stains on the ceiling, scrutinising them for hidden pictures. Aha! there’s a rabbit! But sleep will not come. Somehow it never does. In the next bed my sister similarly fails to nap, and we giggle at the imitation snoring that floats across the room from our brother’s bed.
“I am almost twelve years old, my sister ten, our brother three. Our parents have rented our usual cottage for our usual week at Kure Beach. We are taking our usual midday break from the sun that would turn us all to cinders in this time before SPF 45. But it is also the time before beach cottages in North Carolina were air conditioned.
In the mid-afternoon, they let us out. We put on our suits, grab our pails and shovels, and race down the steps to the beach. The air is still hot, but the water is cool and we rejoice in our liberation. We play.” Elizabeth Buie
‘The train unzips the landscape, sheds fields and hedges’ (e.e. Cummings)
“My sister and I our noses pressed against the glass. Things to see in rapid motion, nothing must be missed. Two hares boxing in a field, a row of pigs in an allotment yard, lying in a row like the sausages they were to become. Gardens usually secret but spied quickly as we sped by. Washing hanging, dogs agitated by our passing, people chatting over fences – and all the time the sound, not of the of course powerful engine but the gentle clicking of mum’s knitting needles as she watched over us.” Helen Pettigrew
‘If you were really there what would you write on a postcard, or in the sand, near where the river runs into the sea?’ (Carol-Ann Duffy)
“It would be of the crunch of seashells under my sandals. The smell of drying seaweed. The glinting of glass turned to jewels by the seas action. Pebbles of every conceivable shape, size and colour. Magic dead things of the salty water, solid starfish cooked by the sun, crab casings, shrimps empty of life. Black breakwaters bound by rusting metal coated with barnacles where the crashing water cannot reach. Rock pools of endless fascination where if you are lucky, tentacles can be found – but of what?” Helen Pettigrew