Summer Solstice

Image: Summer solstice.

Today we celebrated summer solstice – the longest day of the year. Although a somewhat odd way to begin a solstice day, we started by washing a load of laundry. Recent rains had increased the flow of our spring so that we had enough excess water to wash our laundry, which we have not been able to do for a month. So we happily set our shirts and underwear to flapping in the warm summer breeze.

The day was sunny and the tide was low, inviting us for a hike along the beach. The beach extends for some way on both sides of our site, providing a nice long walk with lots of variation along the way. Some parts of the beach are rocky or cobbled, other parts are sandy or even muddy. The diversity of marine life is wonderful – mussels, crabs, cockles, butter clams, littleneck clams, geoducs, mud clams, chitons, dogwinkles, limpets, and of course lots of barnacles. Although we did not see any, the deeper waters of the narrows were once said to be home to abalones. They have been fished out now, but maybe someday we will see their return. Many sea birds were enjoying their repast on the beach, and robins, thrushes, and woodpeckers called from the uplands. A band of eelgrass fringed the lowest part of the shore, and seaweeds of all types were abundant. Once again, I found myself thinking about how bountiful this land is!

A small, nearly hidden, pocket of smooth sand beckoned to us from under the hanging cedar trees. At the edge of the sand was a smooth, rounded ledge of granite, and on this ledge were several petroglyphs. Overhead, we heard the raucous cries of a family of young woodpeckers being fed – eventually we spotted their nest hole in an old, dead snag. On another tree, we spotted an old bird nesting box that had been nailed up. We wondered who might have put it there, as we are a long way from any “civilized” areas. What a neat little grotto!

Along the way we spotted a small northwestern garter snake – it looked so much like a piece of old red and brown cord lying on a rock that I almost stepped on it by mistake. Ken is still looking for toads, but hasn’t spotted any. I had the luck a day or so ago to find a common ensatina, a small pink salamander, hiding in the leaves where we are clearing our house site. Reptiles and amphibians seem to be well represented here – a good sign of a healthy environment.

Our peaceful day on the beach gradually drew to a close, and we collected our laundry and headed back to the Awen. In the evening we made a toast to the solstice, our good friends, and great advemtures to come for all!