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A Solstice Hike

June 22, 2016

I made the decision at the last minute; typical. But why not? I would spend the solstice eve high on the hill at Ebey’s Landing overlooking Admiralty Inlet… take a picnic supper – and the dog – and watch the longest day of the year slowly fade away….

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6:00 PM: By the time I reached the park, most everyone else was leaving. There was a stiff breeze off the water and the sun was still high. I climbed the first hill slowly, watching as, one by one, three huge cruise ships passed by. I smiled, thinking how grateful I was to be here – and not there. The bench at the crest of the hill was a good place to stop, get a breath, and survey the “stripes” of the fields below: deep green for hayfields, light green for newly planted crops, and the rich brown of soils just turned – all counterpointed with the blue of the sea.

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6:45: The sun was still hot enough that I sought some shade in the forest behind the trail. Later, as I walked along, I came upon the huge derelict tree; it was still there and I wondered: how many times have I stopped to rest against that tree?  It was then that I looked down and noticed little holes: small deep circles all over the trail. Then I watched, fascinated, as a large really bizarre bug climbed out of one of those holes. It was covered with green stripes and had two antennae shaped like tiny horns. Seconds after it left the hole, it fanned it’s still wet wings and began to fly. Junebugs…suddenly I remembered the big ugly black beetles I had seen as a child back in Minnesota.  Under the yellow bug light outside the door, our screen was sometimes covered with them, buzzing and crashing against one another. They scared me to death, but Mom said they were harmless. Was that what these weird things were?? I looked around; there sure were a lot of them!

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7:30 I reached the ponds, three watery depressions just feet from the shore. The sunlight bouncing off them was dazzling. But slowly, as the sun began to set, the ponds were left in shadow, creating deep purple outlines of each one. As the sun began to sink behind the hill, I could feel the start of a slight chill in the air…and was glad I brought my jacket.

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8:15 By this time, the breeze was dying out and most of the fields below were in shadow. I sat down to eat my dinner, sharing a few tidbits with the dog. I discovered she liked Pepper Jack cheese…. I decided to make one more push forward and then turn toward home.

9:30 I was back down at the park once again and the sky was changing fast.  There were only two cars left in the parking lot. So I turned on the radio… and there were the voices of the male choir of St Mark’s Cathedral; the Sunday Complin Service. For over thirty years, those beautiful plainsong chants and hymns have been broadcast from Seattle every Sunday evening. As I listened, minute by minute, the colors changed…from pink to brilliant orange, then finally, gradually, fading to blue. At that moment, there was no other place on earth I wanted to be….

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