Midsummer Morning

It is not technically summer solstice here in Ireland until about 5pm this afternoon. After a week of showers on and off, the sun streamed in as I woke this morning, albeit at a later time than the past few days this week. I have an interval between workshop engagements, so I am pretending that I am on holiday for a week.  Which it feels like many days where we live in the bucolic splendour of West Cavan, surrounded by phosphorescent green. The trees are looking fine after the showers and bucked up from the dry spell in early spring. The wild roses are just blooming in the hedgerows. So is the honeysuckle. Driving over to Sligo yesterday on a mission, the verges of the N16 were bursting with dog daisies, a more cheering  sight that’s hard to beat. I will be looking out for the bilberries soon, the first fruits for foraging.


Midsummer Morning

Is bright as the dog daisy’s button head,

as abandoned as its splaying petals.

Who would not want to linger in bed

savouring the peak of sun’s life cycle?

Stretch every limb. Lossen ligaments.

Stretch! Be still as the lizard on its rock.

A smile widens across the firmament.

Feast! Even as you pause, stop, and take stock.

The crops are in, ripening in the sun.

There’s still work to do. But now’s time for fun.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Midsummer’s night is very fey. Make a wish. Leave an offering outside your door. Say thank you.

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Solstice Sun Up Meditation

Shortly after the moon entered the sign of Aquarius at 3am this morning I found myself awake. Then wakeful. As much as I would have loved to get back to sleep I have experienced the amrit vela hours of summer solstice. It’s not exactly dark then. But you do need a little extra illumination to do any writing. But mostly I was thinking. Yesterday was the penultimate event in what has been a hectic workshop season for me starting on St. Brigit’s Day, 1st February. I have worked intensively with children. Yesterday the Arts Officer from County Cavan asked my creative colleague and sometime workshop collaborator, Morag Donald, and I what we had learned from the workshops we delivered. 

What I have learned is that we are rearing a generation of children who are not passionately engaged with words. With each group of kids I work with I begin by asking them to describe themselves as being a ‘words’ person or a ‘picture’ person. Overwhelmingly, they identify as pictures people. Of the thirty-five in the audience at Trivia House yesterday , about five put hands up as Words people, with about two describing themselves as both verbal and visual. 

A good deal of my work with school age children touches on ‘The Lost Words’ – those words naming the natural world that were expunged from the Oxford Junior Dictionary in the 2015 edition. Words like birch, wren, nectar, acorn and dandelion. Words that with climate change may become extinct in an actual sense. It is as if we are extinguishing not just the natural world, but our language to describe our experience of it.  As someone living in a country where the indigenous language was erased as policy for generations, I am sensitive to the fact that when you lose language – the words to express your reality- then you also erode and destroy a culture. We may want to be environmentally aware and climate change smart, but you need the language to connect with the natural world that is at stake.

Ben Okri has noted in his book of essays A Way of Being Free that toxic stories make toxic societies. Many of the stories we offer our children are of war, crime and consumerism. Plot needs conflict, of course, but how do we resolve it? Most often with violence, force, sex or shopping. How can we change this narrative? Fairy stories were dark tales, too. In those medieval folk tales it may have felt like the world was ending; this generation actually faces the prospect of the decimation of home planet earth. We need to create garden arks for the planet. But we also need to create language arks to be able to adequately express out feelings of connection to others and the wider world. For if we cannot name our feelings, describe our inner reality, how can we hope to form a bridge and comprehend those who are not exactly like ourselves? With the language to express that reality we might  have less bullying, less reason to punch and physically harm others, and more peaceful resolutions of conflict. We need to be able to express the shades and degrees of our feelings with a wider range than an emoticon. That is shorthand. What we are losing is the longhand skill metaphorically speaking. (As well as the actual skill of cursive handwriting which is no longer on the curriculum in many places.)

How can we build a vocabulary of resilience in our children? Because it feels to me this morning that we are losing our mother tongue as much as a connection with text.  I was reared by a mother who read aloud for 365 days a year for fourteen consecutive years. Being read to teaches listening skills, not just vocabulary with visual aids of picture books. It is a sensual experience – the snuggling in, the rise and fall of the reader’s voice, the taste or smell of the drink or snack you might be having as you listen. For me, words are the ultimate comfort, books my suckie blanket.

Ironically, to incite people to read the words in this blog I am tapping out on my iPad, I will need to add a visual teaser.  I am not anti-technology. I yipped with glee over word processing and spell checker. I am delighted to capture the birdsong and ghostly moon at 5am for your delectation. But what legacy is there without the language to give context?

The daily poem…eventually.

My Mother’s Jewellery Box 

It’s mine now, but

it used to belong to my mother.

She had few gems or other

priceless items made of gold –

some clip-on earrings, folded

news clippings, old prayer cards –

a display of her regard,

the printed word beside a broach,

a badge of honour, a vote

for what has equal value.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Solstice Celebrations

Today is the 102nd anniversary of my mother’s birth. My father’s anniversary was six months ago shortly before the winter solstice. My parents were the born almost exactly opposite one another, within a day of the summer and winter solstices. My mother’s father was born on the 20th of June and I have a nephew who also falls witin the orb of winter solstice. And, as an aside, my husband was born within the hour of the vernal equinox. These earth movements around the sun are strongly connected with family celebrations for me. It is not just a solar return to their birthday. It is the sun stationing at a point where season’s turn. It not just midsummer festivities because school is out for the summer and Yuletide jollies. So my poetry practice inevitably turned to memories of my parents this morning, in particular my mother.

Father Mother Sun

Child of day of longest night
Child of night of longest light

I am their beloved child.
I feel a wild thrill,
the long and short
of their extremity
I see the extravagent midsummer green
I see the bare bark of bleak midwinter's scene

There were contrasts:
her blonde head
the sun at full light
meeting
his dark-haired one
kissing each other into kin
creating a world that held
in each other
a balance

I am a child that is from
a child of day of longest night
a child of night of longest light


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
honeymoon photo
It seems fitting to share a picture of my parents on their honeymoon just past the full Honey Moon. They both look like they have just won the Lotto.

Summer Solstice Sunset Senryu

The long light evenings give way to leisurely after dinner walks with houseguests. We found ourselves up on the Cavan Burren yesterday evening just as the angle of light was its brightest before it gradually began to fade into the long twilight. Some summer solstice senryu seems to be in order for poetry practice this morning. We were up in the park a half hour before the gates close at 10PM. After a day of on and off rain the light show showed up a luminous green from the moss and lichen.

Cuilcagh Mountain cavan Burren park
Cloud shadow and fairy trees process
The way to the holy mountain
Cavan Burren Park
When humans were giants
We walked as tall
Casting long shadows

Cavan Burren cow and calf
Bathe in the long light
The calf and her mother
Bronzed forever



Which segues neatly into a photo of Cavan Burren Park’s iconic Calf Hut Dolmen. Basically, the captstone slipped at some stage to create a saltbox effect. At some point in the late 18th or early 19th century a farmer decided to mortar up one end and make it a cattle shelter for the new born calves.

Calf Hut Dolmen Cavan Burren Park
Calf Hut Dolmen Cavan Burren Park

By twilight we were home for dessert and tea. The guests had an early morning start. It wasn’t dark at bedtime.

I am revelling in the summer solstice light and the full moon’s light. I hope you are bathing in its fey joy, too. We are still three days of the exact solstice and the moon will be waning by then. In the meantime, let the yin and the yang sky dance and bring you delight.

Words and images Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Summer Solstice Full Moon

We have this unusual circumstance of experiencing a full moon very close to the longest day of the year on June 21st. Up here where I live the light is long into the night. Living without light polution from electrical street lighting, the full moon makes a holy show of herself every month, so long as we don’t have cloud cover. I have been waking at intervals to see both moonshine adn very early light. Even around 2:30 am it is not full dark. You can still see the outlines of trees and buildings. With the moonlight and no cloud we shall just have a a lot of twilight. Which is betwixt and between time. So it seemed wise to write a wee poem celebrating the Good People, aka the Other Crowd,or just as The Fey Ones. You know! Fairies!

The June Full Moon is sometimes known as the Mead Moon, Strawberry Moon or Honey Moon (yes, June has always been a popular wedding month, but it might also refer to all those old time Bealtaine Hand Fastings on May Day. It’s the early days of a marriage.)

Mead Moon

What will the long light illuminate,
sun and moon at full wattage demonstrate?
Will the dark corners be all honey sweet?
Or strawberry juicy? Mead moon's special treat,
the yin and the yang are fully switched on,
partying hearty right through and past dawn.
Spare a thought for the Wee People. Leave some
favours - a thimble f mead, some cake crumbs/
A good time for feasting. Be neighbourly.
The bright moon and long daylight is surely
a recipe for a cottage ceilí.
When this world and the other can shake hands,
sing, dance and cuddle in the borderlands.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Day for Night

Living fairly far north, our day light is long at this time of year. Of course, cloudy conditions can curtail some of the light show, but as we rapidly approach summer solstice, the daylight has crept into the night time hours. Twilight is very long. With the moon waxing and set to be full on the 17th, we barely experience full darkness for very long each night. If you live in a populated area with street lighting you won’t have had the sensual pleasure of the summer solstice’s soft light show where you can see your way down a lane at midnight without the benefit of using a torch or flashlight. (Of course, the midges here might eat you alive on such a night time dander.) Daylight is long at this time of year. Of course, cloudy conditions can curtail some of the light show, but as we rapidly approach summer solstice, the daylight has crept well into the midnight hours and beyond. A friend was still awake at 2:30am the other night and marvelled as the sun began to creep over the yardarm at 3am. Twilight stretches into and becomes our night. With the moon waxing and set to be full on the 17th, we barely experience full darkness for very long each night. If you live in a populated area with street lighting you won’t have had the sensual pleasure of the summer solstice’s soft light show where you can see your way down a lane at midnight without the benefit of using a torch or flashlight. (Of course, the midges here might eat you alive on such a night time dander.)

Poetry practice today is in praise of this seasonal twilight zone. The title, day for night, is a cinematography term use to film night time scenes during daytime (sometimes because of budgetary and schedule constraints rather than artistic reasons). Francois Truffaut even had a 1973 film titled Day for Night, a film about film making which in French was called la nuit américaine (translating as the American Night.) At any rate, the long days and backlit nights of summer solstice feature in the Poetry Daily today.

Day for Night

The long hours of twilight,
their chiaroscuro
painting our world
as if filmed in black and white,
shot as day for night.

We negotiate the familiar
lines and shapes in our landscape
bleached out by moonlight
backlit by a sun barely
slipped below the horizon.
A hare shoots across our path,
a darting silhouette.
Pulses start, rise and recede
after a moment.

In this solstice season
of light sleep
and restless dreams
that come in fragments,
jagged pieces of shadow
their half-light
infiltrating the long hours
of the long light
of the night
in this solstice season
of twilight.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash

Wild Roses

The nights are long now. Twilight lingers until 11:30pm or so it seems, even with the moon waning and winding down. The hedgerows around us are  filled with an abundance of wild flowers species,  including wild roses and honeysuckle. The air I breathe ourside my door is heady with sweet scents, with a top note of wild rose on the breeze.

Yet, the upcoming Summer Solstice also marks the turn towards shortening daylight until we plunge into darkness around Samhain. Yet it is in May and June we notice the brightness most as everything in nature burgeons.

This time last year as the wild roses bloomed I was taking part in a 30 day e-course by Joanna Powell Colbert. She is also the author of the Gaian tarot deck. This morning I was pondering the Major arcana Death card, which also imcludes wild roses in the illustration.

Wild Roses

Here we are at the height of daylight.

Along the hedges roses grow wild-

White, girlish pink, and a darker hue,

Too. Five-petalled perfection.

With thorns. Wear protection.

Sting of love. Sting of death.

Grief amidst sweet fragrance

On the late afternoon breeze.
Love is never simple, running

As straight and narrow as a Roman road.

It grows in tangles like the wild rose

All  the bounty a salad tossed up with 

Honeysuckle, holly, elder and bindweed.

Even now at the sun’s height it’s dying

Perhaps seeding something else bright.