Today is the summer solstice, the "longest day of the year," thanks to the Western Hemisphere's deepest tilt toward the sun. The sun rises and sets at its northernmost point along the horizon. It's funny, really, as the solstice is considered the start of summer and yet it's also the tipping point towards winter. From here, we lose a bit of light each day even as the temperatures continue to rise. That's because the land and oceans are still warming.
Humans are deeply connected to the shifting seasons and the moon phases, even though most of us don't acknowledge these subtle patterns in our life. It's something I aspire to observe. I rose extra early to enjoy a solstice sunrise tea. I confess - it wasn't easy dragging myself out of bed - but I'm so glad I did! I took my chabako kit (a box with all the necessary implements for making matcha in the traditional style) to one of our garden plots. It was cool and quiet. The robins were beginning to hop around and the bees were still asleep inside of the hollyhocks.
I tried to follow the forms and practices of this tea procedure as best I could. I was both host and guest, which is unusual in a Japanese Tea Ceremony and required some adjustments. When I said, "otemae chodai itashimasu," thank you for making this bowl of tea, I was thanking all the people involved and the earth's generosity in bringing me this bowl of tea. It's an interesting contemplative experience if you dive into the thought of being both host and guest.
About an hour into the morning, the sun broke through the clouds, and everything began to sparkle.
By the time I departed, about two hours after I began, the bees were humming and the sounds of human activity were floating in my direction. It was a time to go. A wonderful morning.