Solstice Lights

Welcome to summer! Not only was yesterday the longest day of the year, but also last night was the full “strawberry” moon. The day’s heat had broken by late afternoon, so it seemed a good time to light a fire and watch the evening unfold.

During the couple of hours before the sun set, swallows were about—not only the barn swallows but also the tree swallows, my favorites, glinting metallic blue-green above and snow white below, wheeling and diving over the fields. The deer were out, too, browsing in the clover and alfalfa growing along the back fencerow. And the sky—did you see it where you were?—with high clouds to the west wispy like horses’ tails and to the south piled high in distant thunderheads, all fired pink and orange, fading to blue then to gray as the sun set.

By then, the swallows had long gone to bed, but as the shadows along the field’s edge deepened, the fireflies began to wink on and off, pulsing their ancient code. By this time it was dark enough to see not only Saturn and Mars but also a few stars, especially the big dipper high above me, tipped as though to pour out summer thunderstorms over the earth. And then, as my fire burned to embers, the full moon, high and hard and bright, rose over the barn and silvered the ground ghostly white.

And I thought, What did we do to deserve such a world?