I slept through the actual moment of summer solstice this year, occurring as it did at 4:29 a.m. here in Seattle, this remote outpost in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the longest day of the year, brought to us by virtue of our earth's axis bowing toward the sun at the most extreme angle it will achieve until this time next year. As with the winter solstice, the sun appears to stand still today (the word "solstice" is derived from the Latin for "the sun stands still") and the progression of longer and longer days we've experienced since the dead of winter reverses itself.
This is the day of light (although not necessarily of warmth -- that will come in a few months after the oceans absorbed more of the summer sun). If the winter solstice is about coming together with friends and family for reflection and the assurance that the light will return, the summer solstice is a time to burst forth into the world, to rip off our clothes, to dance in the streets, to embrace friends and strangers with equal abandon.
I've written before about my participation in the Fremont Arts Council. On the each solstice Saturday for the past 22 years, we've painted our bodies, donned our costumes, and built our magnificent pieces of mobile art, then taken to the streets in the kind of abandon that could only be the Fremont Summer Solstice Parade.
For the past 4 years, I've been part of the an ensemble called the Superhuggers: we dress as superheros and hug as many people as we can. It's one of the most exhausting and life-affirming things I do, made even more powerful for me this year by my daughter's decision to join us. She's been in the parade for the past 5 years, but this is the first time she's chosen to be with her dad since she was 8.
That's Josephine, the blonde in the center, as we await our turn to take to the streets.
Since this event takes place in the neighborhood of our school, I have the great joy to hug dozens of Woodland Park parents and students (both current and alumni) along the 3 mile route. My highlight was getting a big one from Jasmine, who is now in 6th grade, and her mother Royal, right there in the "Center of the Universe." But really, it's impossible to not feel that every hug, every moment is a highlight.
Getting Superhuggers to do anything together is like herding cats. We managed
to get about half of us together for this photo. I think the rest were busy ogling
the 700+ naked cyclists!
Some people say we're freaks. To them I say, you haven't lived until you've put your arms around the strangers with whom you live each day and said, "I'm happy you're here. I love you." And to have them say back, "I love you, too!"
If you're curious about the rest of the parade, this video does a good job of condensing our 2 hour piece of community art into about 4 minutes. Just a warning (or perhaps an enticement), there are naked people!
If you're still curious, just type "Fremont Solstice Parade" into the Flickr.com search box -- or any search engine for that matter -- and you'll find a never-ending supply of photos.
And here are some photos from last year of our Woodland Park community who take part in the parade.
And finally, here is what we did for the winter solstice.
Update: Here is a great photo stream from our parade!