Summer solstice gathering
Every year when jasmine (Philadelphus or mock-orange) and peonies start to bloom, I can time days and hours to my favorite time of the year. The longest days, the still-crisp nights, and the heady, perfumed air. It is Midsummer time, which has nothing to do with middle of the summer, after all it is about to begin, but an old North and Central European celebrations of flowers, fire, and dance. June 24th, St. John’s Day, and the night leading to it, is the time to toss the handmade flower crowns in the streams and rivers, and to celebrate.
This year, I was fortunate to have spent few days at my parents’ and their gorgeous gardens, where we celebrated early this special time of the year together. With strawberry season in full swing, the annual strawberry desert that my brother and I loved as kids, made an appearance. Midsummer celebrations are all about nature, woodland mystery, and for me personally – Hans Christian Andersen fairytales. An old willow tree stump covered in moss served as a table, cow parsley and old fashioned roses found on a walk at an old church courtyard fit the scene perfectly.
Bonfires have been part of our family celebrations as long as I can remember. Usually with a bite of sausage cooked on the open fire, sometimes accompanied by guitar and singing, watching bats fly over our heads. Over years, the family picnic spot evolved to the most cherished place, with views across the garden, over the meadows, under the stately linden trees planted years ago by my grandfather. My little niece and nephew will continue the tradition, I hope, as they already love spending the time around bonfire, lighting the miniature torches made of sticks and happily grilling buns over the flames. All, while blooming jasmine’s eerily white flowers punctuate the night…
Hilde van Gerwen
What a wonderful family tradition…beautifully captured in words and images!
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