Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice!

Litha. Midsummer. Summer Solstice. The Longest Day. This is the day the Sun reaches its northernmost point in the year, at the Tropic of Cancer, 23º 27' N. The daylight hours have been gradually increasing since the Winter Solstice, and after today, the longest day, they'll begin to shorten little by little each day. At this point we're at the height of Summer. The following pictures were taken yesterday and today in my favorite area of the world.

Yesterday I went down to Ballard Park and got some pictures for this post. There are lots of flowers blooming now, both in the Quarry Meadow and back in the woods. And there are some critters, too.

You've heard the old saw about the early bird getting the worm? Well, these shots weren't actually very early, and the Gray Catbird and the caterpillar were at opposite ends of the park (the Catbird was near the puddingstone boulder on the Valley Trail and the caterpillar was climbing one of the Quaking Aspens in the grove in the Quarry), but I thought they went together nonetheless.

Flowers in the Aster family are blooming like crazy in the Quarry Meadow. From the top: Spotted Knapweed, Canada Thistle, Chicory, and Daisy Fleabane.

There are other flowers blooming elsewhere, as well. At the top below is some Black Mustard growing beside the Vernal Pond. Below that is some Japanese Honeysuckle growing along the Southwest Trail (I know, I know, it's a nasty invasive pest, but it sure smells nice!). And the bottom shot is of some Swamp Dewberry, a plant in the Rose family and a close relative of the Blackberry, growing along the Valley Trail.

There's lots of Duckweed covering the surface of the Vernal Pond these days, but unfortunately I haven't seen any ducks coming to nibble on it. But it does serve as camouflage for the large Green Frog population in the pond, and if you sit very quiet and still and keep your eyes peeled, you may just get a peek of a Green Frog's eyes poking up out of the water watching for bugs.

Down Hazard Rd. from the park Gooseneck Cove is also getting very summery. One of the surest signs that Summer is advancing is the Blue Crabs getting big enough (from a legal standpoint) to catch and eat. I was talking to the gentleman who had caught this plump fella yesterday; it's still early yet (our prime crabbing season picks up in July), but he got four keepers Friday evening and had caught this one yesterday. Hmmmmm... I need to go down in the cellar and find my bucket and my net; I'm getting a serious crab craving!

I went back down to Hazard Rd. this morning to do one of my annual Summer Solstice rituals; I keep water from Gooseneck Cove in a small antique medicine bottle on my altar to represent the element Water, and the Summer Solstice is when the old water is put back where it came from and new water refills the bottle to serve for the coming year. While there I noticed some Snowy Egrets flying in for a snack, and managed to catch this one in the midst of the Snowy Dance, flying over the water in short hops and kicking up the water to stir up the small fish to make it easier to snag them.

Finally, I leave you with this panoramic shot of Gooseneck Cove looking south from Hazard Rd., showing off the cove in all her Summer finery. Happy Solstice, all!

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. Thank you, Roy! Happy Solstice to you too. You really have an array of beautiful photos here. The frog is classic and the flowers so beautiful. You'll have to do a post on how you catch and cook a Blue Crab...

  2. Nice shots, Roy. I especially love the thistle and the frog made me giggle!

  3. Like Kelly & Willow, I love the frog photo--& I also like the honeysuckle photo a lot--but they're all good images. Happy solstice!

  4. Wonderful shots! Happy Solstice!

  5. thanks for the solstice stroll.

    wonderful pics - as usual - the egret taking flight is incredible.