Friday, December 21, 2007

Our Summer Festival

While the top half of the world is shivering and wrapping up warm, we've finally achieved some summer heat, gently glowing in cars that have lost sight of their air-conditioning, the kids having up to the three swims a day and food simplifying to salads for every meal.

Today was officially Midsummer's Day here, hardly even recognised in the run up to Christmas, but we'd already had our Summer Festival last Saturday, giving us enough time to recover and get into gear for the next big celebration.

Last Saturday started off as a real scorcher and after the unusually cool start to the summer we've had, it took us by surprise. We wilted around the house, as I fired up the oven to bake two huge plaited loaves of bread and only in slow motion got into the making of windmills.

I pinched Jenny's idea for word birds from her Prairie Farmeress blog, birds being creatures of the air and fitting in with our Air theme at a stretch, and the children got completely into them, begging to do more than one as they got inspired by new words. The idea was to take a word that is positive and made you feel good, write it in gold on the bird and then decorate it. By the end we had a fine treeful of positive energy!

One of our friends is an incredibly practical engineer and constructed an amazing windmill, with cogs and all, intended to churn out industrial quantities of bubbles, but as all mad inventors discover things never go quite as planned and the bubbles had to be hand blown after all.

We also got ambitious and decided to string a line of streamers right across the whole sandpit, involving major feats of engineering to secure poles and line.

Earlier on in the day we thought our Air festival was going to be windless, with hardly a breath of wind to turn the windmills and waft the flags, for the first year ever. Around five o'clock though, some cloud drifted over bringing a north-westerly breeze, which is the direction that rain comes from. By the time we were ready to carry the flags to our circle it was blowing merrily and we were all peering skywards going "Tut tut it looks like rain" à la Christopher Robin.

One thing that struck us all was how much the children have grown. A couple of years ago the tall poles, that we tie our gauzy flags to, were too heavy for most of them, needing adult intervention to avoid others being bopped on the head by falling lengths of wood. This year we had a fine show of flag-bearers reminiscent of the Palio in Siena.

They proudly processed with them into the circle and planted them around the edge of our sandpit, clutching paper windmills and pots of bubble mixture as well.

After we'd read all our blessings and returned to the house for supper the last lingerers called us back out onto the lawn. The sun had set, turning the overcast sky to fire and the most amazing rainbow I've ever seen was suspended high in the sky against this background of glowing clouds. It's ends didn't touch the earth, the sun had dipped below the horizon and was projecting it way up high. We all felt like the universe was smiling down on us in affectionate amusement and joining in our thanksgiving.

We then went back inside as the rain started to pour down and addressed the serious business of food and whether or not there was enough chocolate pudding…there wasn't quite, for the first time ever there were no leftovers to be consumed for brunch the next day, but a fine evening was had by all nonetheless!


  1. Absolutely beautiful, the pictures, the description and the whole idea :)

  2. Oh I would LOVE to come to one of your festivals! I adore the streamers and the word birds - so clever. And what a sunset...


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