The Earth is hurdling toward Alban Hefin, the longest day of the year. Irish summers are poignantly beautiful in their brevity. They can also be as unpredictable and volatile as a hyena on crack. However, for the past two weeks the wild west of Eire has been blessed with magnificent sun and blue skies. Tonight, I took these photos on my twilight walk, at ten in the evening.
At this time of year, the sun doesn’t set until after 10pm and light lingers in the sky for hours after that. I’ve worked in the garden until late and been shocked to go inside and find that it’s after one in the morning. Yesterday, the daylight woke me at 3:45am. Over the next few weeks, as the moon grows bigger, it will rise in the east while the sun is still beaming in the western sky. And everywhere, animals and plants are celebrating all this light.
Alban Hefin is the old Druid name for the summer solstice. It means ‘The Light of the Shore’ and is symbolic of the shoreline between earth, water, and sky. The places where these three elements meet are considered to be ‘between the worlds.’ These are sacred places of great power. The shoreline of the largest lake in Ireland, where I live, positively throbs with energy, especially at this time of year. The trees are full of fat, green leaves, lush ferns whisper in the breeze, and delicate wild flowers in purple, blue, white, pink, red, and yellow grace the land like fashion accessories. If you stand in the quiet twilight, you can almost hear the Earth singing.
This year, Alban Hefin arrives on the 20th, and Druids in their white robes will be celebrating at Stonehenge as they have for millennia. But I’ve been celebrating the light for the last two weeks, and I’ll continue to celebrate for as long as this exquisite seasons lasts.