I love this time of year when an imperceptible change of the seasons begin. I was driving to my pottery class this past Saturday morning, and couldn’t help but notice that all was in shade on the road just about all the way. (It’s about a 15 min drive.) I’ve noticed the long shadows all over town and on my walks these last weeks as the solstice has approached.

Although it’s winter here in the southern hemisphere, it hardly feels like it in Plettenberg Bay, in the southern part of South Africa. The days are warm and sunny, the nights are cold. We’ve lit a wood fire on a few occasions, or used the gas heater. I’m sure we’ll still get the bite. There’s been snow on the Drakensberg mountains in the last little while (on the eastern side). Up north in eg Johannesburg, they’ve felt the bite of winter. Real shiver me timbers stuff.

We’re in the third wave of Covid. Some places in South Africa have been hard hit with the rapid uptick of it. Colds and flu are normal for this time of year, but along with Covid, things are not good. This government has been very slack in providing vaccines, much due to corruption, including our Minister of Health, so help me G-d. Many are not playing their part in social distancing, masking, sanitising. Unemployment is at an all time high, the population is frightened and angry, riots and protests are ongoing as is crime, GBV. We have restrictions in place, at the moment Level 3. I know many, family included, who’ve had Covid, and a few friends and acquaintances who have sadly died.

From tomorrow we’ll be in our 3rd week of painting the interior of the house. Last week the painters couldn’t come for 2 days because of riots and the blocking of the national road preventing MANY from getting to their place of work in Plettenberg Bay. There are no curtains in the house as they’ve been taken down. Thankfully, we are not woken in the early hours from sunlight streaming in. I can’t use my study, everything’s covered up. Hopefully, all will be completed by the end of the month – and then it’s July! I swear this year is going faster than previous years.

I asked Mike and Neil on our walk – does the sun rise in the east and set in the west. They looked at me as if I was crazy. Of course they said, surely you know that. I said no, the sun doesn’t rise and set, the earth moves. As the earth continues its tilting, I wish you Solstice blessings in the northern and southern hemispheres and fruitful changes.

Margaret Attwood: “This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath”.

Thank you for reading. May the Force be with you.

56 Comments on Solstice

  1. Hi Susan – I thought I’d commented … but ‘no’ … I loved this – seeing the family, your son’s treat to his Dad and you, seeing the fynbos, the sun rise, the little boy with his huge smile – wonderful. I hope the house is ‘new’ now and just you living there – no painters etc … I always love reading about SA – brings back happy memories.

    Here – we live on with our muddled life … at least here in Eastbourne life is relatively comfortable – but who knows where we’re going – I hope all will be well, I feel it will be for those of us not working in the health system – I feel for them: people are selfish, and our politicians do not seem to be leaders of any sorts …

    I have been ‘swamped’ in too much tennis – French Open, Eastbourne and now Wimbledon – brief break and then the Olympics …I am doing things reading a lot, our local art gallery small cinema is opening up with some non box-office films = bliss (and I’ve booked 8 of them)! Lots more needs to be done – but am moving forward … various groups will be opening up again in September … so all things being equal in 2 months we’ll have some form of normality back.

    Stay safe and all the best to you and South Africa (and the world) in these times – Hilary

    • Lovely to open my computer this morning and see your lovely comment Hilary, thank you.

      We’re in our 2nd week of Level 4 lockdown which means no alcohol to be sold, no sitting down at restaurants, no more than 50 at eg meetings, funerals, curfew 9.00 p.m. No interprovincial travel (no comment – from me). Rumour has it that the lockdown 4 will be extended by another 2 weeks.

      This morning was the first morning we didn’t have to be up early and organised for the painters and plumbers to arrive. Though is there is still much to be done in getting our house ship-shape. Much already done. Yesterday the man to measure blinds for my study was here … I have very large windows looking out to the sea and mountains – a friend came by unexpectedly and was also here. She said why have blinds? Why have anything? The view is everything. So, that’s a thought! The sitting room is still un- curtained.

      Also watching Wimbledon … will record the Djok match this p.m. as I’ll be out playing bridge this afternoon. Lovely to see the Fed win, I’m a little sad that Rafa is not playing.

      The shenanigans continue apace – ex pres should be in orange overalls by instruction of the ConsCourt – roll out of vaccinations is still slow though picking up a bit. Gauteng (Johannesburg and surrounds) is in the grip of the delta variant.

      Nice and cold here, though the sun is shining. Lovely that you’ve got movies to look forward to and some reading on your plate. Hopefully weather good for walks?

      On I go, it’s lovely to be back in my study. Have re-arranged a lot. Still a fair bit of tidying to do. Thank you again for your lovely comment Hilary, I hope this finds you in good health and good cheer. Susan

  2. I’ve been looking forward to your solstice post, Susan. Thank you for writing. Your weather sounds wonderful down in Plett — my kind of temperatures. So sorry to hear about covid and the SA corruption. We, at least, have covid under control here. No more mask wearing if you’re vaccinated, and 70% are, no covid sufferers in the hospital in our county for the first time this month since the beginning, and venues opening up completely next week here in the state of Delaware. Love the photos, and what a darling face that little boy in blue has. I hope your painters are done post-haste and somehow more vaccines are available to get that covid contained. –Carol

    • So lovely to hear from you Carol, thanks for stopping by. Good to hear that the majority is vaccinated and things are opening up from the beginning of July. We were anticipating a hard lockdown for Gauteng up north (Johannesburg and environs) as it seems pretty out of control but not as yet, thankfully. Down here in Plett we still wear masks if out in public, sanitise on entering stores, though the hospital is full.

      Enjoy the air in Delaware 🙂 and have a lovely weekend xx

  3. Happy Solstice. Here in NE June 21 (and weeks ahead) means long glorious days of sunshine. It’s “my” season. I need/want/desire/love the light. That said, I also have no compass in my head. East/West/North/South make no sense to me. Perhaps to creatives like us, we know the world is round and there is no straight direction! ;-0 I’m so sorry to read of the troubles in SA. Here in the US east coast almost 60% of the population is vaccinated, so everything is open. Such a freedom from worry. I wish you health, safety, and a well-painted house!

    • Thanks Pam for coming by. Well at least you know you are on the east coast. For a long while my husband thought we lived in the eastern cape, until I reminded him yet again we live in the south western cape. The border of the eastern cape is not that far away from here. But I do know that the sun doesn’t rise or set, the earth moves. (I hope it moves for you too!)

      As Elaine pointed out earlier the vaccine is safer than the virus, so I take hope in that. Thank you for your good wishes, I wish the same for you. The smell of paint lingers and I guess it will for a while. But, hopefully it will be worth it.

      • Yes, we’re in the east coast of the U.S. – Boston area. Soooo far away from you, yet thanks to our blogs, I don’t feel far away at all. TAKE CARE! <3

  4. Ah, well, Susan, it is what it is and we just have to get on with it. Covid is much more prevalent this time around and I also know a lot of people who have had it or who currently have it. We are doing our absolute best to keep safe and away from others but Gregory is in matric and they have to go in for the portfolio tests.

    • Yes I hear that Gauteng is like a raging fire. I hear from many who are in the mist of it including family. Do take great care Robbie, your family too and Gregory when he goes in for portfolio tests to take extra care. It’s a scary business for sure. Thank you for coming by, I so appreciate it 🙂

  5. Wonderful to hear from you again, even if under the awful, dire circumstances you and many others are facing. I’ve been surprisingly unfazed by record high temperatures in our part of the Northern Hemisphere. With a number of days in the upper 90s it’s no annoyance with humidity in single digits or the 20s at most.

    • Thank you John for coming by. I wondered about you and your heat. Thankfully no humidity as well. I have to say, my circumstances are not dire, but for the majority of our population it is. With winter just about here (much cooler morning where I am after days of warmth) it will no doubt not improve.

    • I also wanted to say Deborah re the 3rd wave in the UK- do take great care of your precious selves. Thank you for the link, I’ve got it. About to set off just now to Mike’s home and park off there while painters are here. Just given them their 2nd tray of coffee etc – when they’re done, I’ll prepare their next tray for lunch time when I won’t be here! I look forward to reading Jeanie’s. Have a lovely day, love, Susan

  6. Nothing is any longer predictable, if it ever was. The change in season harbors again marking of what it will all change into. I anticipate surprise and the unexpected any more. Several people today mentioned how covid changed their lives, to reflect and bring about more change–that had to happen…

    • The Trickster had made its presence known and shook (shock) us up well and truly. Some of us are ‘shaken, not stirred’ … many of us are well and truly stirred to reflect upon all that has happened on a personal and collective level. Thank you for coming by Susan, I appreciate it. The coming changes – well, we’d better be prepared as best we can.

  7. Here we are in the endlessly tilting world. I’m sorry South Africa is having such a rough time and hope you and your family were vaccinated. Most people I know have been vaccinated and vaccine is readily available, but there are all sorts of political and health reasons people use to avoid it. I’m sorry it was made into a political issue here and hope people will slowly get that a vaccine is lots less dangerous than covid. Wishing you well. Wishing you joy. Wishing you beautiful colors in your home and long midwinter sleeps.

    • Neil and I have had the vaccination Elaine, Neil a once off one, I will have my 2nd one in July. My sister and husband have had theirs. We live in the western cape under the jurisdiction of the opposition party (Democratic Alliance) and they’re way ahead of this govt. in proper planning, roll out etc of the vaccination. Frankly, I was against it for myself but my husband’s better judgment in this instance swayed me. I like how you say that the vax is a lot less dangerous than Covid.

      Happy Solstice Day to you! How are the birds, bees and butterflies – I’m sure acknowledging the tilt in the best way possible. Off I go to bath and bed in a mo or so, hopefully for a good nights sleep. Thank you so much for coming by 🙂 I wish you all those lovely wishes you sent to me, thank you.

  8. Happy Solstice Day. Always good to see you writing something here. I’m sorry to read about your third Covid wave. I fear this is the virus that’ll never go away. I hope your painters will be able to finish painting the interior of your house soon so you can enjoy your new color scheme.

    • Thanks Ally Bean … we’re alright here in the south western Cape but it’s like a runaway fire up north. Johannesburg (the City of Gold) is a very large city, one of the largest in Africa and is the hubbub of all. Its environs are extensive. Around 11 million ..May the painting be finished sooner than soon … hopefully by next week midweek. It will be nice to have the bed head board back in its proper place. They said they would finish our bedroom tomorrow. Maybe that’ll be the night I have a decent night’s sleep instead of pillows falling off.

  9. Thank you, Susan. I always look forward to your solstice posts too. Here in the U.S. the summer solstice coincided with Father’s Day and our twins’ birthday. Our son and family arrived to spend a week with us in the mountains and when we drove home after a celebratory dinner in town the sun still hadn’t set behind the mountains.

    Times like this always remind me of the magic and mystery of nature and creation….how it cycles through times of dark and light, cold and hot, snow and fire….and in all that back and forth, life can be counted on to continue to be refreshed.

    This gives me hope in times like this when the pandemic situation is worsening in your part of the world, yet beginning to feel almost “normal” again here. The dark times, both literally and figuratively, are always so scary, yet the light always comes back somehow, certainly in the big picture, if not soon enough for us. May the light return sooner than later in your country where things are getting so dark now.

    Wishing you love, balance, hope and trust in this middle space between the opposites when dark and light dance together in partnership.

    Love, Jeanie

    • Thanks Jeanie, you say this so well. It was Father’s Day here in SA too, hence a special walk and then a lovely lunch at a charming outside restaurant alongside my favourite garden nursery. Horses in the paddock too, one with a star 🙂 along with goats and amazingly coloured chickens roaming around. On one of the chickens, the one part of his plumage looked bright white, and the other side highly coloured. But when he turned again, the bright white was no longer there and it was black plumage. This I realised was because the sunlight was so bright, his plumage so glossy, that that part shone white. Your words have pricked my memory, thank you! The Light and Dark in partnership. I’m also reminded of 3 years ago on this day when we were in Einsiedeln outside Zurich and we saw The Black Madonna. I remember being overcome, Neil too. Radiantly shining …

      How lovely that the twins’ birthday is on the Solstice! Happy Solstice birthday blessing to them. What a lovely celebration!

      Yes, the wheel turns … thank you so much for your lovely wishes Jeanie. Love, Susan

      • Your post inspired me so much that I just wrote tomorrow’s blog post about it! Thanks for the inspiration, and the Margaret Atwood quote. I’ve given you full credit!! Love, Jeanie

  10. Thank you Susan its always my pleasure to connect with you:) I am so glad that I could comment from my home computer, which is a miracle, otherwise so difficult to access. I loved every picture you posted, so colorful home garden, and pictures taken on a walk. Sorry to hear about the riots, pray that things get better. I have taken the first dose of vaccination along with David and Dorothy, and our next dose is after 84 days. The lock down is lifted up and everything is open here, and I have started working full day at the centre. The 19th month old boy is so cute:)

    • Glad you’ve had your first dose Genevive, Dorothy and David too. That’s quite a long period in between the first and 2nd … my 2nd dose is in July. First one was two Fridays back. Glad too that everything’s opened up. There were some pretty scary stories coning out of India. I believe Ivermectin was allowed which is a good thing. We started taking it ages ago and will continue with a dosage of it every two weeks.

      Isn’t that boy a cutie! I hope to see him again sometime on a walk and he on his little bike with his dad. Glad too that you’re back at work, no doubt extremely busy with all the wonderful work that you do. Take care xx

  11. How interesting that as you approach winter, we are easing into summer in a different hemisphere. Your photos are so engaging, and I admire that you are taking a pottery class. I hope your country can enjoy more freedom from restriction brought on by the pandemic. Yes, may the solstice herald something new and positive.

    Enjoy your day, your week, dear Susan!

    • Thank you Marian for coming by. You’re about to have your shortest night, longest day we our longest night. It’s pitch black outside as I write (6.05 p.m.) It’s an interesting phenomenon. Who knows what these next months may bring – the tide must surely turn.
      You too have a lovely day and week Marian 🙂

      • Yes, may the tide turn.

        Our summer solstice was rather eclipsed yesterday because here in the USA we celebrated Father’s Day also.

        • We also did! With Neil and son Mike who treated us to a lovely lunch after a walk. And we remembered our own fathers –

  12. I’m sad you still suffer so from Covid. Thanks to our former president, our vaccines are plentiful and free. Anyone who wants to be vaccinated can be and many cities are open for business again. It feels normal and it’s hard to imagine the rest of the world isn’t like we are. But it isn’t. So, I’m thankful for a guy who made this happen for us.

    • We’re all pretty much ‘open for business’ I believe Jacqui. Shops, restaurants, businesses etc. If we have a hard lockdown, back to Level 5 we’ll be in the soup. Here in the western cape where I am, vaccines are not that hard to come by. I had mine over a week ago when there was an allocation for 70 people over age 60 to get from the local clinic. (They’ve had several of these ‘allocations’.) My poor long suffering husband went and stood in queue at 5.00 a.m. .. I got there at 7.00 a.m. to relieve him of securing my place and it all went well. He’d had his some several weeks back being a medical man 🙂

      • Really good to hear. I like that most of these vaccines cover the variants, too. Still, I won’t be surprised if I must get a yearly booster.

        • Neil had the once only one – my 2nd shot is next month. I REALLY hope this isn’t an annual vaccination. I know many have an annual flu vax, which I never have had.

  13. Hi Susan, Even though I live in a different hemisphere, I have noticed a change in the shadows. I was at Butchart Gardens this week taking photos and it was almost impossible to avoid shadows. I will now be more observant about long shadows in the Fall/Winter. Ha, ha ‘shiver me timber’s stuff.’😀

    I am very sorry to hear about the challenges, especially in the third wave.

    I appreciate Margaret Atwood’s quote: “…the place of caught breath.” Thank you for sharing the update and the interesting photos. Thank you especially for sharing your wisdom, Susan.❤️

    • Hi Erica, right now it’s a totally balmy evening though I’ve just put on a jersey. It’s about to get very dark. By the time my response to you is completed it will be fully dark. And the longest night of the year will commence! And you your shortest night 🙂

      It’s quite fun to notice the shadows and the different light. I remember at the equinox at midday one cannot see one’s shadow on the ground (for what it’s worth).

      Yep, South Africa has in the past and now again had its back up against the wall. It’s quite tiring being resilient! We’re all feeling it. Have a lovely week – if I could do a heart on my lap top I would 🙂 xx

        • It shows up as beautiful red hearts Erica thank you! If I was using my phone I could do the same – I must ask son Mike to make my lap top emoji compliant xx

  14. It’s been weirdly hot and cold here, too. Fall-like temps and then wham, it’s going up to 90F today. I can’t believe I missed the solstice — not missed it per se, but didn’t get to blog about it. Life’s been somewhat hectic with us opening up again from covid and anxious to see friends and family that we haven’t seen for quite some time so at least it’s for good reasons. Love to you during this magical time, Susan. xo

    • Thank you Pam for coming by in spite of the busyness of everything – the best reason in the world to let the solstice go by! We’ve had warm days but I believe it’s going to turn from tomorrow. The weather in SA can be very strange … I remember one October in Johannesburg when summer was in full bloom and there was snow, and one June too, when we were on our way to the airport and there was snow. Not just little flakes but full on flakes! The Drakensburg mountains get snow … but not cities! Love to you, enjoy everything!

      • It’s been fluctuating here, too, but it’s all exacerbated by climate change. Just read a book you might like, “Under a White Sky” by Elizabeth Kolbert about environmental fixes gone wrong. Fascinating and scary. 🤔 😱

  15. Your beautiful pictures of your surrounding flora fascinate me as they are so different from our flowers. Plus, as you move into Winter, we move into Summer. It is becoming hot and I’ll look forward to Autumn when the weather cools down.

    It is amazing how fast the last couple of years have whizzed by. Fortunately, here in the U.S. vaccines are widely available, but sadly some people refuse to get the vaccine as they don’t believe in Covid. Life is opening up – FINALLY! Now friends and family can start socializing and enjoying one another again. So our country is starting to bloom again.

    I am so sorry to hear of the destruction happening there. Having corrupt leaders definitely damages the world around us. Thank God we are RID of Trump. I will pray that your country finds ethical leaders. Enjoy the change taking place within your house. I’m sure the new paint job will be refreshing for you. I’m sending Big Hugs your way!

    • Thanks so much Gwynne for coming by and wonderful to hear that things are opening up and people can socialise! Yes, we go out for lunch, walk about here and there and so on, but there are too many people who gather in large numbers at bars, weddings and funerals. And taxi drivers who are responsible for get the majority of people to work do not wear masks. Hopefully, their passengers do. Johannesburg which is where Dave & Jüte are now living, has been likened to a wild fire. Hospitals and private clinics are about to reach capacity. Walk-ins for vaccinations are now becoming a distinct possibility.

      Thank you for your prayers for ethical leaders Gwynn. Our opposition party is excellent in their track record on all levels, municipal and national. But the majority by far of the voting population is for the governing party. Hugs to you 🙂

  16. Hi Susan. Thank you for sharing the winter solstice from your part of the world–it sounds beautiful there. But I am so sad to hear about conditions in your country–Covid, riots, and everything. Here, things are beginning to open up again. The vaccine is widely available–though there are some who refuse to get it.

    • Thanks for coming by Merril. It’s hard to know what to say really – things have got to change. Maybe the solstice may herald something new and positive. Have a great week and glad to hear that things are opening up – long may it continue!

  17. Thank you Susan for sharing your wonderful recent photos and winter Solstice update. It’s always good to hear from you. I agree re the swiftness of this year, I’ve never known one that’s moving so fast as we all reach late June’s midpoint.

    Here in the UK we’ve just entered the third wave of Covid too, and there’s a real panic in the air about whether we’ll ever reach our “Freedom Day” now delayed until July 19th or whether or not another lockdown be put in place for everyone.

    Still there are no certainties as all hope is being pinned on the national vaccination programme. I love your Attwood’s quote, just perfect! I hope you’re taking advantage of your beautiful, mild winter and getting out for walks as often as you can.

    What a time we’re all having. I fear the winter ahead and what it will bring! It saddens me to read of the corruption and greed in this world and how lives, millions of them, are lost due to money and selfishness. I pray for change at this still point.

    Love and light, Deborah.

    • Dear Deborah, thank you for your heartfelt comment. The latest news this morning is that Johannesburg and environs may be facing Level 5 lockdowns as the virus is rampant. Read: out of control. I’m sorry to hear about the UK too … from what I read or see on TV I gather the UK has been pretty good delivering the vax programme. Your population of 66 million is a little more than SA’s total population, we’re about 60 mill. I guess that’s about 10% more than here.

      The painters were here early this morning and all is underway. I’ve made them their morning coffee and the next lot of coffee will be at 10.00 then I’m out of here, probably to Mike’s house with prepared canvas and paints. Neil’s has already gone. There’s a warm berg wind. The day is still young on this the Solstice Day. A walk will be included!

      What a strange world and times … thank you for coming by Deborah, so appreciated and also the reminder of prayers for change. Love, Susan.

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