Today is the Longest Day

Shifty and friend, Revels North Solstice Festival, June 2005

Today I will try to remember the earth on its journey around the sun. Funny how easy it is to be confused about who’s doing what to whom in the universe. The whole notion of the sun rising and setting is false. Why do we persist in thinking that the sun does the moving rather than the earth. The earth spinning . . . the velocity of the universe . . . it may all be too much to comprehend. Makes me dizzy just thinking about it.

Poem 2-15-01

I dream of you as we ride the earth into another day. Confident, breathless, joyful. The wind has tossed our hair, the misty spray in our eyes as we gallop together bareback between land and sea.

I get out of bed slowly, bracing against the G Forces while the earth thrusts down the silver thread of equilibrium between fiery destruction and aimless wandering that defines life as we know it.

And as I watch you dress for another day, I can’t help but appreciate the beautiful dance that is you — smiling — turning to me in the face of this intricate balance that is our world.

Sun shine out strong

Solstice Festival Stage, June 2005

The sun came through just before we gathered for the opening of the 2005 Revels North Summer Solstice Festival. It was brilliant.

We spent most of the day watching the skies — the sun would break out from time to time and then showers would sweep in again. It was beginning to look as though we would be celebrating in the Marion Cross School gymnasium. But by 5 PM, blue sky and wispy clouds moved in from the north west and we had a beautiful clear evening ahead of us. The three-quarter moon rose between the tall pine trees to the east of the festival site at about 7 PM.

The festival began with a small parade that included the most amazing butterfly puppets I have ever seen. I had to search my mind for the word “puppets” to describe them and it does not do them justice. Unfortunately I did not get a photograph of them in daylight. I have a couple of night shots when they returned lit up for the last song of the concert. They were created by the utterly fabulous Gabriel Q of White River Junction.

After a brief introductory song and dance, the chorus spread out among the festival-goers and participated in the many activities. Many worked as behind the scenes volunteers serving food or helping at the popular silk scarf painting booth, while others participated in Dan Hertzler’s excellent shape note singing school and contradance workshops run by the Green Mountain and Maple Leaf Morris teams. There were other activities, too numerous to mention.

At dusk, the concert began with a short dance performance choreographed by Carol Langstaff, the founder of Revels North. I can’t objectively describe the concert program because I was singing in it, but it was a pleasure to sing and worth the time dedicated to rehearsing over the past three months.

The evening closed with a circle dance to the tune “O How Lovely Is the Evening.” Or at least it closed for the audience. The revelers in the chorus and working “backstage” spent the next hour clearing up the site before relaxing at the cast party.

The Longest Day, Communing with Nature and Other Diatribes

The longest day of the year is not until Tuesday, June 21st – but I will be celebrating it in a couple of ways today. First, there is the Revels North Summer Solstice Festival – a free event that takes place in Norwich that usually draws 1000 or more participants. There’s singing and dancing, food and crafts. Most of all there’s an awareness of the season and a sharing of the awareness of the moment through song with a bunch of friends. Thanks Revels for making it all possible!

Tonight, there’s a summer party at Jo Jo’s, which is another type of communion for me. There’s only a few things that top getting on stage and playing extended jams into the night with my rock star brothers. There’s a place we go where I swear we converse. Not with words, but with notes and volume dynamics. The audience picks up on the conversation too, and becomes a bigger part of the sharing. Together we channel the energy back out to the universe.

Helen and I sing in the St. James Church choir in Woodstock, so we go to church A LOT. Every Sunday, I spend time trying to figure out what communion is all about. Today, I will commune with my friends with a stomp on the ground and a shout to the sky. That’s how I’ll celebrate the height of the summer solstice. I’ll leave church to tomorrow.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man