I am Summer’s Child, born in the season of Litha. This is my soul season, if one could be said to have a soul-anything. I don’t believe in the religious idea of “soul”, but rather a secular one. In this case denoting a strong affinity or connection to something. Like with soul mate, a concept I also put no faith in.
I spent many a summer vacation, wilding my young self in the deserts and scrub country of Southern California. It’s amazing how resilient we are in our youth. I could roam the hills for hours during the hottest parts of the day when temperatures often reached well into the hundreds, with nothing but a tank top, shorts and flip flops.
I learned to recognize the plants, trees, animals, birds and even insects of this ecosystem. I would stow away my memories of them for the next time I could get to a library or a bookstore. I would jumped at the chance to go to the mall, which otherwise I had little use for, just so I could go to Walden’s and head to the outdoor guides shelves to scan a book on the flora and fauna of the West Coast.
It was here between these disparate places that I uncovered a little bit of the unexplained, something magical, the only “real” magic I’ve ever experienced.
While on these walkabouts I sometimes would decide a random bush or tree wasn’t random at all. I put a name to them, a name that sounded right and fitting: buckwheat, cottonwood and mustard. I spoke their names and I knew them.
Later at Waldens, I would pull a field guide off the shelf, scan the index, and turn to the page in question and find out that I was in fact right. It was delightful and magical. I liked to think that there was something supernatural at work, something beyond my self that put these names into my head. Perhaps I knew these plants in a past life, perhaps the plants knew me and introduced themselves to me, implanting their names inside my head. Pun intended.
I’m still not sure if they were just lucky guesses, or if I somehow managed to internalize their identities from browsing through various books, though the difficulty I had in confirming I was right about buckwheat (the variety that grew in my hills didn’t look like the ones pictured in my favorite field guide.)
However it came about, it connected me with the summer season and nature itself in a very “woo” sort of way that I’ve never disconnected from, even as my skepticism about “woo” has grown.
Today is the Summer Solstice, Litha, the longest day of the year, and the start of summer. The girl who wandered the hills communing with the plants is long gone. She grew up and forgot the magic as children often do. Yet I’m thinking about her now on the Summer Solstice, she would have loved being here in the land of the midnight sun on this day above all others.