Today is the Summer Solstice in South Africa. The image above, from EarthView, shows Africa today. (Note how much broader the band of daylight is south of the Equator and how much narrower it is north of the Equator, where it is the longest night of the year.)
When the southern hemisphere is tilted more towards the sun, which happens between December 20th and December 23rd, we experience our longest day and shortest night of the year.
Today will be 3 hours and 18 minutes longer than the day of the Winter Solstice in June.
The Summer Solstice is a time of celebration, of honouring the light, our connection to the Sun and the Earth. Summer is a celebration of the earth’s wonderful bounty.
And as we watch the ripening and flowering and fruiting all around us, we can’t help but be moved by and grateful for the generosity of the Earth Mother, who gives what we need so unstintingly.
So what do smallholders think about on this the longest day of the year?
Although this is the celestial high point of summer, in reality days will continue to get hotter, before they begin to cool in autumn. The summer season goes on for a couple of months after the Solstice.
And the cycle of planting will continue. If we are practicing succession planting, we will continue to plant some summer vegetables, so that we will not be sitting with a glut of vegetables ripening at the same time.
We will continue to inspect our crops for pests and diseases and continue with our weeding.
Now many of us have time to preserve the harvest of summer vegetables. So we will be freezing, drying, juicing, pickling and making jams, chutneys and relishes.
Some of our livestock will have young at the moment and our routines of checking on the well-being of all our animals are without end.
The setting sun can also be seen as a symbol of the year that is drawing to a close. Now we can spend some time looking back on that which has happened, both the good and the challenges, for this has been a year like no other.
Now’s the time to begin the process of letting go of the things that have reached completion in your life ~ the ways of operating that once served you but you’ve now outgrown.
But we also look ahead to a new year, with hope and determination to make the most of our land, our crops, our animals and of the people around us.