The summer solstice, that day of mischief and magic marking the beginning of the summer season, falls on Monday, June 21st this year. In honor of midsummer’s arrival, we spent a lovely Saturday morning on the farm hiking and building fairy houses for the pixies and little folk that would be celebrating the new season by moonlight.
This is sure to become an annual event for Kids Unplugged at Fishkill Farms and you can see the photos of last year’s fairy houses here.
I like to honor the changing seasons with the children for several reasons, and the farm is the perfect venue for doing so. Our busy, modern lives have lead us away from the deep connection with the land and the earth’s natural rhythms that our ancestors had. One needs only to read some of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books to see how closely in sync family life was with nature and the seasons. I think that even though our present way of life disconnects us, to a large extent, from
those natural, seasonal cycles, children (and adults) are still deeply affected by the changing seasons and acknowledging and celebrating these shifts can be very meaningful. It can also help children as they transition from one season to another.
At the same time, life on the farm continues to observe the rhythm of the seasons. The name midsummer itself is a misnomer–how could the first day of summer be in the middle of summer? But for farmers, the first day of summer was indeed the middle of the growing season. Seeds were sown earlier in the spring, when danger of frost had passed and the sun had warmed and thawed the ground so that it could be worked again. By midsummer’s night, those early crops were thriving, much of the hard work of preparing the fields was finished and it would be a few more weeks before the real work of harvesting would begin. Midsummer was an opportunity to relax a bit–to celebrate the long, warm, sunny days that would soon ripen the bounty of the fields.
And historically, it is on midsummer’s night, under June’s full honey moon, that the fairies come out to dance and make mischief and bring love and lead unsuspecting humans astray into the forest. This, obviously, is the part that the children love the most.
So, after talking about the solstice and the farmers and then the fairies, and harnessing their spirit of magic and mystery, we spent the morning hiking out along a couple of the old farm roads collecting materials which would later become the makings of fairy houses. Then we found a quiet little woodland spot where they went to work on their creations. And when it was time to go, they did not want to stop. Only the promise of a good fairy story and some of the farm’s homemade ice cream could lure them out of the woods and away from their elfin homes.