The Solstice is upon us tomorrow. It always gives me cause for pause signifying as it does the tilt of the earth in relation to the sun. There is a brief ‘standing still’ as gears change and new seasons beckon in both northern and southern hemispheres.

What happens when a solstice occurs? It’s an event that occurs when the Sun appears to reach its most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. Two solstices occur annually, around June 21 and December 21, when the Earth’s axis is pointed directly towards the Sun (wikipedia)

Image result for does the earth tilt at solstice

For you in the northern hemisphere summer really begins. For those of in us the southern hemisphere winter takes hold.

The solstices, together with the equinoxes, are connected with seasons, harvests and livelihood.

I’m back home as of last week Saturday 11th June, the day before my birthday.

This is the sunrise that greeted me on Sunday June 12. I took it from my bedroom balcony. Those are the Tsitsikama mountains. There was snow on them last week and snow around the country.

It was a lovely 10 days or so up on the highveld. Of course the greatest joy was seeing Sam my grandson. For my sister Debora who accompanied me on this road trip up to Johannesburg this was her first time meeting him. Enchanted from the word go.

Sam, wondering if he was seeing double.

I could wax lyrical about this little baby. But I would get carried away. Dave & Jüte sent this photo of him on Father’s Day, yesterday.

His smiles that reached his bright blue beautiful eyes made me feel like a million dollars. And anyone really – each and every one in his orbit on whom he bestowed a smile felt the beauty of him and their hearts uplifted.

A photo from last week, all bundled up for a walk in the park –

Sam in the pram

I had a lovely time up on the Highveld, bright blue skies during the day, freezing cold at night. I saw a few special friends, but did not dash hither and thither as is my wont. I had injured my leg on the first day of being away, and am still feeling the repercussions. Especially in my toes on my right foot at night. My husband, retired ear nose and throat specialist, is now my ear nose and toes go-to person. Dear Lord, I am praying that this resolves itself … the pain is terrible, at night.

It’s lovely being at home, over a week already. Our newly planted garden is doing well and all seems to have rooted and taken. We had professionals come in early May. Much new soil, a thorough turning over of old soil, some plants transplanted and many newly planted. A 4 day exercise. Already there is colour and come Spring it’s bound to be a riot.

Towards the end of April, we motored to Wellington and embarked on the Wellington Wine Walk, a 3 night 4 day hike in this beautiful part of the world in the western cape. At times fairly arduous, especially on one of the days that was seriously hot. Wine and olive oil tastings along the way, magnificent scenery, lovely lunches provided, very comfortable night time accommodations.

The whales are in the Bay I’ve heard. Yesterday afternoon I thought I saw something very far away fairly close to the horizon of the sea. Only some white that came and went. Even with binoculars it was hard to determine. Not birds, not waves, not dolphins …

The governing party of my country is facing a huge backlash. There is so much that is so wrong. They’ve gotten away with criminal activity on a gigantic scale. The impact of this has affected us all, the poorest of the poor in particular. State owned Enterprises have failed on a grand scale. Assassinations are the order of the day. Anyone who is seen as a whistle blower or who does not agree with the party line (ANC – African National Congress) is done away with. Loadshedding (electricity blackouts) are the order of the day in these cold cold nights. Much else but this is not meant to be a rant post. I think the tide is turning and many, once staunch supporters of the ANC, have lost hope in the Mandela dream. They need to be voted out asap –

Dave, Jüte & Sam, along with Pablo the pooch and Naomi (Meowmi) the cat will be here in Plett fairly soon. They’ve been busy packing up for long weeks now. It was my pleasure to ‘look after’ Sam when he was awake so that they could continue with sorting and packing. My elder son Mike arrived in New York on Saturday. He has a big 4 day NFT meeting starting tomorrow. He’s based right there at Times Square in a Hilton hotel and is pretty buzzed about it all.

I’ve been AWOL a long time. Probably will continue so. My energy levels are down. The below photo is of a sunset from outside balcony and the one after it is today’s photo, without that very large palm tree in our neighbour’s garden which was severely trimmed the other day.

no palm tree detracting from view
4 yrs ago Einseideln, Switzerland The Black Madonna which we saw on the Solstice

Thank you for reading. I hope this finds you all well in these troubling times. May the Force be with you as the wheel keeps turning.

be the light in the shadows

50 Comments on Solstice inter alia

  1. Dear Susan, Sorry for taking so long to respond to this lovely post. Like you, I’m going through a phase of lessening energy and motivation and have neglected some of my friends on social media. So sorry about your ankle and toes! And so glad you have your own personal, live-in doctor to help you through this.

    I’m thrilled for you and your family to have a new member. Sam is a beautiful child, and his smile is contagious. Just looking at him warms my heart and makes me smile. Congratulations on becoming a grandma. You’re in for so many joyful new experiences that you and he will always remember with love and deep satisfaction. As I write this two of my grandsons are making monkey bread in the kitchen with their father….a longstanding—and very tasty—tradition when they visit us in the mountain. Now we all associate this place not only with bears but monkey bread too!!

    I grieve with you over the erosion of democracy. I expect these kinds of political cycles; they’re inevitable but deeply painful. But I know they’re necessary for change, and have hope that whatever political views we may have, the goodness in our species will ultimately prevail over our personal and cultural shadows. May it be so.

    Love and blessings, Jeanie

    • Thank you for your lovely response Jeanie. It’s the 1st July – hard to believe that half the year has gone by already. The dawn breaks sooner these days. We can hope only that the dawn breaks for all in this world, yours and mine and everyone else’s. It’s a cliche but one of those that has value – it’s always darkest before dawn.

      I had a peek on Google to see what monkey bread is and it looks delicious! I like that you can pull it off in chunks.

      Thank you for the reminder that change in political cycles is inevitable and that the goodness of people will prevail. May it be so.

      Love and blessings to you too Jeanie, have a wonderful weekend.

  2. Beautiful pix! Yes, in the North America we are enjoying summer on the solstice. In the Southwest it’s monsoon season already–we badly need the rain to put out two big fires in New Mexico and fill the well. About two inches of rain this month; mostly this week.

    • We’re freeeezing here though the sun broke through the clouds today and night sky is bright. Huge rains in the southern/western cape, flooding in some areas. If only it would rain in the eastern cape as they’ve hit day zero re drought. Hope you get your rains John – always such a help when there are fires.

    • Thanks Pam – terribly sorry re reversal of Wade vs Roe (: a sad day indeed

  3. Hi Susan, so glad to read your post after a very long time, thank you for all the updates, you grandson SAM looks so cute and what a joy to see him smile, sorry to hear about your foot. I hope and pray that it heals soon, nice to know the ENT specialist is also taking care of the foot:) There is chaos here too the government coming up with new laws to recruiting young men for 4 years in the army and then giving them opportunities to work in any sector they want too… the young people are frustrated, the party that promised employment has not fulfilled so there was burning of the trains at the railway stations in the north, despite all the noise, the government is going ahead with their plans, democracy is killed, and anyone raising their voice are arrested and imprisoned. I do not know what the future holds, just trusting the one who holds all our future. I love the pictures of sun rise greeting you, and so nice to hear that you took a road trip with your sister. The black Madonna is shining brightly and beautiful. Take care of yourself Susan. Glad to be connected.

    • Thanks so much dear Genevive for coming by and your lovely comment. I feel for you and all in your country with all the political drama going on, and the weather in some parts of India is too awful. When it seems as if it couldn’t get worse, it does get worse. Democracy and all that it stood for is no longer operational it seems. Social democracy? Well, that’s what our government is supposed to use our taxes for: equality for all, working hospitals, functional rail roads and trains and roads, looking after the poor and indigent – and so on …

      At long last, the Zondo commission set up 4 years ago to look into state corruption, was released yesterday. It’s the 2nd one and it is damning. But there is a sense that the truth is out and that this governing party is terribly complicit. It will be interesting to see from here on if there will be arrests. So far the big wigs have escaped arrest.

      Like you, I trust in the light overcoming the darkness.

      Stay safe and well Genevive xx

  4. Hi Dear Susan ❤️ Your post reminds me how we are all in this together, a feeling of unity, “…a brief standing still as gears change…” Your words are beautiful.

    Happy belated birthday. Every birthday is a reason for celebration. Mine is in less than a month…egad…where did the year go? That gorgeous sunrise on June 12th…a great deal to be thankful for.

    Little Sam is beyond adorable! Those smiles…truly a gift. Hearts melting, hearts uplifted.

    I am sorry to hear about the challenges in your country.

    I love all of the photos and your update, Susan. I greatly appreciate our connection, even from afar. You also remind me I should think about writing a post, yet I don’t even know where to begin. We are still in the throes of it all around here and I make sure to get in some Nature Therapy and to count my blessings. xx ❤️

    • Thanks so much dear Erica for coming by and your kind words. I also barely knew how to begin writing a post; so much had happened since the last time but there was a sense that I wanted to make connection and not let the solstice go unnoticed by me as well as acknowledging that beautiful sunrise on the morning of my birthday. As well as showing off Sam’s beautiful smile. It was an effort for me but I’m glad I did. I love your saying about ‘a feeling of unity .. of all being in this together ..’ in spite of the throes of life throwing us curved balls left right and centre.

      Nature Therapy is the best … and we are blessed to be able to witness, partake and be grateful for it all. Even if the weather can be extreme in some parts of the world.

      July, around the corner – next thing it’ll be 2023. Ye gods and egad .. Blessings to you Erica 🙂 xx

  5. Hi Susan – lovely to see this post and to hear your news … Sam is an absolute delight – so pleased for you all … love the various photos. At the moment I’m trying to just keep myself peaceful with what’s happening in the world.

    It’s difficult to understand this world at the moment … thankfully there are still a few people who are true leaders and one hopes will set examples for the populace to follow – I can’t get my head round people following headlines … and selfish leaders (also stupid ones!).

    Mind you I then overwhelmed myself with different subjects – still the brain is active …I do hope your leg/foot improves – I’ll be interested to hear the news.

    I heard a very interesting zoom talk at University College London -“Taking on Putin: From the Magnitsky Act to Resisting Russia’s War on Ukraine ” … Bill Browder – an amazing man – I leave you to check him out. His first book “Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice”, which I came across in Canada.

    He’s just brought out that new book, hence my interest, “Freezing Order
    A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath” …

    I’ve also been giving talks about Russian Revolutionary art 1917 – 1932 … I know nothing about Art – but am learning! It’s part of our history group’s subject this year. Frighteningly similar one hundred years later …

    Sorry this has rambled – take care – cheers Hilary

    • Hi Hilary thank you for your fulsome response! Wonderful that you’re studying art history from the Revolutionary phase of last century. I immediately thing of those beautiful Fabergè eggs.

      I follow Garry Kasparov chess master who has his say on current events. He brought out a book ‘Winter is Here’ or winter is coming – I forget for the moment – in 2018 I think and I believe it’s prescient. He foresaw everything that is currently happening, possibly because he is a chess master and is in a good position to know Putin’s probable moves.

      Money laundering – I wonder where our MP’s learned this from – our own President with $4 mill hidden in a sofa on his farm, stolen, 2 years ago and this has only just come to light. Although the Pres knew about this when it happened. Not reported to police, nor to the revenue service – etc etc etc. and sad to say SA looks on Russia favourably –

      I’m seeing a vascular specialist on Monday.

      It’s cold here – blackouts are the order of the day.

      Best to you Hilary, thank you again for coming by.

  6. Hi Susan – so glad to see your post and catch up with your news. Your grandson is adorable. I love seeing pictures of the little ones and they do much to cheer us during tough times. Hope your leg and foot are feeling better 🙂

    • Thanks for coming by Barbara. Isn’t he a cutie. Leg foot will be checked out next week by a vascular specialist. Thanks for your good wishes.

  7. Those blue eyes! Oh that kid is gonna break hearts. I’m always delighted to see a post from you in my feed, so however often you feel like writing, or not, is fine by me. I know you’re headed into winter today as we start our plunge into hot humid weather. I’m not sure how much I’ll be around, the heat takes it out of me. Stay safe, be well.

    • Thanks Ally Bean, isn’t he just a sweetie? Son David is dark eyed like his Mom, Jüte is very fair and blue-eyed so that won out. Think blue when the heat gets too close – for coolth and brightness. Just gone 4.00 p.m. my side and time for tea and the heater on ..

  8. Happy belated birthday, Susan. It had slipped my mind that we were both Gemini twins.
    I’m sorry to hear that you are in so much pain in the evenings and I hope your newly-specialised husband-doctor can sort it out for you.
    Sam is just gorgeous and how much you must be looking forward to him bringing his parents to live closer to you.
    Your photos are beautiful!
    Happy Solstice and happy, happy days!

    • Happy Birthday to you too Norah! Are we the same day? 12th June? Knock me down with a feather if this is so.
      I’m seeing a specialist of a different kind next Monday – a bit of travel to get there but I’m hoping. The ear nose and toes doc has made enquiries and this (Egyptian) man seems like the ticket. They’ve spoken on the phone.
      Jüte sends the dearest videos of Sam from time to time – tasting his first lemon, first bit of mushed chicken, first bit of orange etc ..
      Happy Solstice Day to you too! 4 years ago we were in Einseideln Switzerland (outside Zurich) and saw the Black Madonna – mmmm, I’m wondering if I can edit my post and put up that photo …

      • I’m the 18th, Susan, so a few days after you.
        I hope the new specialist gets you mended quickly. It’s no fun being in pain. Four years ago seems so long in the past now – pre-covid.
        The videos of Sam would be treasures. He’s gorgeous.

        • Thanks for your good wishes Norah! Happy birthday for the 18th – here’s to many more😍

  9. Dearest Suzzee, Such a lovely piece. And Sam just too adorable and those eyes!!
    Sun rise and settings are very impressive. We think ours are noteworthy but dont quite match up to Plett’s. I cant even comment on the state of our nation and the world.
    Mountains of challenges. Go well my dear friend

    • Thanks dearest Di-Dee! The highlight was seeing you and Rob after the WWW and staying overnight. Your mountains are verrrrry impressive.

  10. OMG, Sam is so cute! He has the cutest smile and the most bright beautiful eyes 😀

  11. Interesting insights… MY birthday is June 14, so we are closer than we knew…our solstice is tomorrow and I look forward to the turning…I’m sorry to hear about your injury…I’ve been going to PT for an elbow issue that I wanted to resolved before kayaking season…I feel the loss of energy, also, and I have attributed it to doing too much to accommodate others at my expense. I hope to find a better balance. Thanks for showing up!

    • Thank you for showing up Beth. Happy birthday for a week ago. Today is our solstice too. Funny, I also had a bit of a collapse earlier this year including loss of voice which was clear to me on reflection that I was trying and doing too much to accommodate others. May your energy return so that you can kayak in season!

  12. Susan, I hope your foot heals well and quickly. It’s a demand to slow down and take care of your precious body. I imagine if Vic were still here, I’d keep a faster pace to match his, but it’s a relief knowing I’ll be right here until the end of September when the Monarchs leave. My son from North Carolina will visit for a while with his lovely lady, and my other son lives just a few miles away.

    I watch the sun god Apollo ride in his chariot from north to south on my western horizon. He’s as far north as he goes right now. It’s wonderful to have long days but summer is truly just beginning. The birds are still nesting and butterfly season will continue for about 3 more months. While most of this country bakes, it’s been extremely cool here. Your grandboy is a delight in story and photos. I’m so glad you get to see him and it sounds like they’re making a permanent move and will live closer to you. Do I have that right? What could be sweeter?

    The political situation here is worse than any time in my life. There have been terrible times, but I’ve never feared for democracy before, but I do now, especially in southern states. New York feels relatively sane and I’m glad I live here. Love to you in all the beauty that surrounds and heals you, Elaine.

    • Thanks Elaine for coming by. I believe your summer really begins now. I remember being in the States a long while back in July and boy it was sweltering. I know that many Americans take their vacations in July-August to escape the heat and would often visit South Africa. What a wonderful few months you have ahead with the Monarchs visiting and birds nesting and plants blooming.

      Yes it’s a permanent move for them. They saw their dream house in Plett in March when they were visiting. They weren’t even looking at that stage. So it’s all systems go for them. It’ll be wonderful to have both sons and grandson right here in Plett – it’s almost too good to be true. A new phase – and very sweet.

      I also feel that while this country has seen its ups and downs, it’s never been this bad. We talk sometimes about getting the hell out but we know we never would. We’ll sit it out. Things HAVE to change. But everything’s pretty dark right now. The president has been caught in a particularly shady deal. If he was a man of principle he would ‘step aside’, the mantra used by him to warn other ministers in his party that if they were suspected of corruption in any way, they would be asked to step aside. Very many of them – none has stepped aside.

      Here’s to love and beauty, light and shadow, growth and waning … and love to you.

  13. Hi Susan, I am so sorry to hear about your injury. Sam is such a gorgeous boy, what a lucky Granny you are. Things aren’t great in SA, but they aren’t marvelous anywhere. The UK seems to be bursting at the seams with incompetency, corruption and bureaucracy. Maybe the tide has started to turn and things will improve. A friend of mine once said it is always darkest just before the dawn.

    • Thanks Robbie. The tide must surely turn now – you know as well as I do that it cannot continue in the same vein. Yes, a good reminder that things are often darkest before the dawn. Lights out here – up there?

      • HI Susan, we had load shedding last night from 7pm to 8pm (it was supposed to be from 6pm). We are in the fortunate position of having a generator so it doesn’t inconvenience use much. We have to be able to work and can’t be sitting in the ‘dark’ for hours on and off at Eskom’s discretion. It cannot continue in the same vein. One of my very good friends came to say goodbye on Sunday. They are immigrating to the UK. At this rate there won’t be any professional people left to work in any companies. We have such a chronic shortage of staff at my firm, it is pretty much a crisis.

        • Ours was 8-10.30 p.m. We have an inverter that keeps computer, TV etc going for a while but not for fridge, lights etc. Sorry to hear a special friend has just left Robbie and there’s a chronic shortage of staff at your firm … this country is in CRISIS.

  14. What a wonderful rich post, I echo Gwynn’s sentiments entirely! I love your nature writings too Susan whether you’re sharing views from your balcony or hiking along a path or when taking a wander on the beach. Yep, I agree, a much better view now the palm’s had a haircut!

    Aww, that cute photo of Sam in his pram has melted my heart. I’m a sucker for all those furry baby outfits, especially ones with ears attached! Oh, don’t you and your sister look alike?! It must’ve been great to have Debora join you on your road trip. Such great photos to treasure!

    Ouch! I’m sorry to hear about your foot, I really hope things will settle down soon, especially at night. Would it help to sleep with your foot raised a little, on a soft, flat pillow? I mention this because it helps me to do so, each time I’ve broken my ankle, what about strapping it up?

    Lastly, it’s heart-breaking and deeply disturbing to hear that so many who don’t agree with the party line are “still” being brutally murdered and that those electric blackouts are still sadly, the order of the day! I’m at a loss for words, it must be absolutely terrifying for so many!

    Truly, I admire your approach my dear friend, of not putting your head in the sand nor turning away from the beauty and splendour of the world but instead learning to live with the tension of the opposites that surround you, above and below. Thanks for teaching us how!

    Sending love, light and Solstice blessings across the oceans between us, Deborah.

    • Thank you dear Deborah. The lights are out as we speak – a lamp and an inverter will keep me going for a while I hope. I wear a warm sock at night and my foot and leg is slightly raised on a padded cushion. I go to sleep ok but when the foot/toe strikes in the early hours then it strikes, like a flaming burning spike. (Even I didn’t know I could get so graphic).

      Thank you for saying about the tension of the opposites – I hadn’t thought of that but I think I can see that. There is so much that is good and beautiful about South Africa and so much that is dark and abysmal. We’ve been on the precipice for a long time, now it feels like a bottomless pit.

      Thank you for your sympathy and empathy – your ankle is I hope fully healed by now? Why do we get ungrounded? In a recent dream my sister and `i were on the balcony watching the queen down below walking in the garden when she fell – we rushed to help her. There was much more to the dream that was ghastly and horrible but the possible meaning does not escape me.

      Love to you across these troubled waters, Susan

      • Thank you for asking about my ankle. The short story goes like this, following another break in February (the week before my father died) its recovered again but because it was the 4th time in four years my consultant is looking at possible surgery for ligament repair but first I have to wait for an MRI scan to confirm his suspicions. However, sadly due to covid delays, I’m in a big NHS queue. What a fascinating dream you had, hmm, it seems as though you’ll be making another descent “below” soon, and a quick one at that! x

        • Thanks for the update of your ankle Deborah. Funny those weaknesses or whatever they are. Sort of an Achilles Heel – or Achilles Heal … So, everything on the back foot for the moment for you …
          Yes, a notable dream … a bit arrrghhh …

  15. I so enjoy these posts, Susan, of your activities and travels. The scenery around you in S.A. is beautiful, reminiscent of our American Southwest — I would love to see it in person and go on that wine and olive oil tour, as soon as I have that mega-bestseller book — and it’s tragic that your politics and government are not a part of that beauty. So glad you will soon have Davey, Jutë, and Sam close-by. Sam is such a handsome, happy child — and those blue eyes, stunning. I love the photos of him. Looking forward to seeing pictures of your garden in the spring. It’s good you have your ENT(oes) specialist at hand and would that your leg heals very soon and you are out of pain. Take care, and thank you for this delightful update. –xoxo, Carol

    • Thanks Carol so much. Make that mega-bestseller-book a reality please and come on over! This president in whom we had great hopes is as rotten as the rest of his cadres. It’s ugly stuff. Who knows, from the deep dirty mud a lotus may yet emerge. The ENT (toes) specialist came home from golf this afternoon with a torn hamstring. Showing off a bit to his golfing buddies that he saw the ball (someone else’s) go there. He saw the arc and knew exactly where it was. He tripped over a concealed rope – poor man. Two of us, with our right legs that are not right.

  16. I LOVE your post. It is hard for me to accept that your world is headed toward Winter as my world heads toward summer. So far Spring has been pretty leaky with few days of sun. Summer will be interesting.

    Your picture of Sam is adorable. He can light up the skies with his smile. Will Sam and family be moving closer to you? Enjoy!

    Speaking of politics, I’m convinced ALL politicians are out for themselves and NOT the people they represent. This world NEEDS to change for the better, SO BADLY. I too will stop here!

    In the meantime, take good care of your foot. I hope it gets better quickly. I LOVE the pictures of your skies – SO beautiful. Thank you for brightening my day. I’m sending BIG HUGS to you!

    • Thanks Gwynn so much! Your energy is coming off on me a bit. Yes, Dave & family will be closer to us – about an 10 minute drive away, the other side of town. Just down the road from Mike’s house. I think we’ve always wanted to believe that politicians want the best for their supporters. Nope no and nada – this is something we truly need to be thoroughly disillusioned about …

  17. Your beautiful country and your beautiful grandson–what a smile! I’m sorry about your foot and the state of the your country and so much in the world. I’m glad you got to see friends and family–and that wine hike sounds wonderful!

  18. Democracies around the world seem to be struggling, and other governments just don’t talk. I too am down so I understand. My writing is still my salvation and I hope that continues.


    • Democracy seems to have lost its value. It’s pretty hard to witness what is going on, worldwide. Thanks for coming by Jacqui and articulating your disenchantment.

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