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Living in Season Newsletter

Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
Volume 1, number 8
June 20, 2003 Summer Solstice Eve


  • Welcome
  • Happy Summer Solstice!
  • Living in Season: Midsummer Crown of Flowers
  • In My Library: Books on Wreaths
  • Midsummer Packet
  • Copyright
  • Subscribe - Unsubscribe

Welcome to my semi-monthly newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life. Please forward this newsletter if you enjoy it.

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Happy Summer Solstice!
Usually on Summer Solstice I go to Golden Gardens beach with my girlfriends.. We create a circle with a circle of sweet peas and build a bonfire inside. I burn the dried remnants of my Christmas tree on the fire and toss in all the dried flowers and herbs that have accumulated in my house. We stand around the fire, toasting and boasting about our accomplishments, dancing and singing. All down the beach,we see the flames of other bonfires.

This year I'm not going to the beach which is probably a good thing as the weather has turned sullen, as if often does in Seattle at Summer Solstice. After days of sun, followed by days of gray skies, we had our first deep rain in months. I can tell you from experience it's pretty miserable to be huddled around a bonfire on the beach in rain ponchos.

Instead I'll be at a friend's Solstice wine tasting party. He's promised to build a bonfire in his garden, so I can burn my Christmas tree, but we'll be able to retreat to the shelter of the house to toast our accomplishments while sharing our favorite bottles of wine.

I have other Summer Solstice plans as well. On Midsummer's Night's Eve (Monday, June 23), after a lovely dinner in the garden with my friend, Lori, I'll be gathering magical herbs and flowers. And I hope to make my pilgrimage to Mount St. Helen's next weekend when I'll also be attending a Midsommar Fest in a park sponsored by the Skandia Folkdance Society.

However you celebrate the Summer Solstice, may it bring you joy and may you experience all the blessings of midsummer.

Living in Season: Making a Midsummer Chaplet
The symbol of the circle is prominent at the summer solstice just as it is at the winter solstice. Wreaths are an integral part of midsummer celebrations, worn as chaplets, thrown into the bonfire, and adorning Midsummer poles.

At my Summer Solstice on the beach, my talented friend, Liza, always makes a crown of sweet peas which she gathers into a circle, using strands of beach grass to wrap around the stems and hold the wreath together. Totally organic and it has a casual and playful look.

For a more structured approach, you might use one of these methods. Thread a large needle with a strong thread (determine the proper length by laying the thread on the intended wearer's head). Gather flowers (or herbs) and poke the needle through them (much like a Hawaiian lei). The trick is to put the needle through the strongest part of the flower (usually the central green portion). Buy dried rose buds from a herb store, string them sideways by pushing the needle through the fattest part of each bud. Finish off with some long colorful ribbons. This wreath is totally organic and can be tossed in the fire at the end of the night.

On a website, I found instructions for making a garland which advised starting with a wire, covering it with tinfoil and then with plastic, then wrapping flowers freshly picked from the garden around it with thread. This sort of wreath could not be burned in the fire but you could take it home and hang it on the wall afterwards, as the Czechs do. They burn a pinch of the wreath (which obviously has magical properties) during thunderstorms to protect them from fire and also crumble some of the dried wreath into the food of animals who are sick or in need of extra protection during calving.

If you want to make this chaplet more organic, I'd suggest starting with a string or piece of raffia as a base. Again measure it to make sure it will fit properly. Use thread to lash flowers or herbs to the wreath. In Bohemia, mugwort is used in wreaths and I can imagine how pleasant that would smell, both worn on the head and tossed in the fire. Laurel is an herb of the sun and would also make a lovely and somewhat more elegant chaplet. Or bind together grain stalks and stems of St. John's wort,with its sunny yellow flowers.

If you want to know more about making wreaths, I've posted the Wreath Making page from my Midsummer packet on my website here.


In the Library: Books on Wreaths

Enchanted Circles by Elizabeth Jane Lloyd

This is my favorite book on wreaths. Unfortunately it is now out of print but still available used. Lloyd organizes the book by season and shows wonderfully creative wreaths appropriate for each. For instance, in summer she glues seashells to a cardboard back, makes a travelwreath with mementos from a special trip, gathers herbs intoa magnificent green circle. The instruction section is clear and easy to follow. I was able to make wreaths successfully after years of really pathetic attempts.

While writing my Midsummer packet, I also got a book from the library called Making Country Wreaths from Caprilands, written by Adelma Grenier Simmons, who owns and runs a herb business. She's one of my heroines — I love these tough, eccentric women like Tasha Tudor, who make their lives a work of art. Country Wreaths is great, especially if you can't find the Lloyd book. But my favorite book by Simmons, is Herb Gardening in Five Seasons by Adelma Grenier Simmons, also unfortunately out of print but available used. This has the same seasonal theme as Lloyd's book. Simmons provides recipes and craft projects using herbs for each season (the fifth season is Christmas), plus she features a special herb each season: mints for summer, artemisias for autumn.

New Midsummer Packet
I've finished writing the Midsummer packet, which threatened to turn into a book. I couldn't cover everything but you will find information on traditional celebrations with fire, wreaths and water, love divinations, much about roses (including recipes for baklava and directions for making rose water), how to make gardens of Adonis, magical herbs and flowers to gather on Midsummer's Night's Eve, and much more. To order go to our store. $9 +$3 shipping for the print version, $7 for email.

Copyright ©Waverly Fitzgerald 2003.
All rights reserved. You may reprint material from Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as long as you credit me and provide a link to: http://www.schooloftheseasons.com. Please send me a copy of the publication.

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