Celebrating Solstice: Summer returns to Vashon Island
I began my day in a sweater (cotton) and my day ended in a sweater (wool), a fitting and not unlikely costume change for the first day of summer in the Pacific Northwest. The varying degrees of chill here require you to choose your fibers wisely. And, I can report that by noon I was resplendent in my weekend uniform: a v-neck tee and shorts (clean t-shirt I might add).
Solstice goes pretty pagan here on the island though I’m not sure if pagans had potlucks and pinot noir. I spent my evening with friends on the north end of the island. It’s high-bluff geography jutting out into the middle of Puget Sound like the bow of a boat—a vantage point that challenges the wind and affords its guests and residents an unequaled view of Colvos Passage and the Olympic Mountains to the west. I often think of this range as the world’s largest sundial. Its southern flanks host and hide the sun during the long dark winter months. Then beginning in spring, the sun is shepherded across the entire ridge line of the range, marking the culmination of summer at its northernmost reach. It’s a moment when most islanders slip into a state of denial. For the longest day and farthest reach signal a return path to opposite extremes.
Inevitably, we recognize that the sun—like most island commuters—is not immune to the reality of a roundtrip. The evening culminated with a rousing two-minute display of fireworks, crackling bon fire and chorus of kind voices trying to recall the words to many fine campfire songs. It was fitting tribute to Solstice, and on the drive home, I enjoyed an extended warmth not provided by sweater, bon fire, or reluctant truck heater. Welcome summer.