Solstice, a Celebration of Summer

The morning began, as it most often does, with the 9am phone call between Anna and myself. While we began by discussing appointments, a certain division of responsibilities and the various tasks that lay before us, our conversation quickly veered to the day, that of Solstice.

What does the history cast, what are the rituals and how would we incorporate them into our workday? She swiftly researched and read to me while I started driving to my first meeting for a design consult, with a repeat client who has always been a dream to work with.

She continued on, reciting from A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Puck’s final quote, described various ways in which to incorporate fire and the light from candles, through burning a bound circle of grape branches to writing down desires on paper for the season and burning them. Our conversation ended with the expression of focusing on light and all that it pertains to as this time of the year brings more daylight hours to us than any other, symbolic to me of rising at dawn during these months surrounding the solstice.

We settled on making flower mandalas, made it a priority. While walking and gathering stems and blossoms, another design client called and was led through the ordering of various items for her home, questions answered. We placed our flowers out, mine on the table, hers outside, made independently and differently, well expressed in the end and somehow I see them as representative of who we are.


“On the Solstice, we honor the Light, we remember the Light, we celebrate the Light.”

Every work day Shannon and I have a morning ritual.

I wake up. I make coffee. I wait for my brain to turn on and for her to call me at 9am. We check-in with each other and plan our day. We make certain the other feels good about the direction we are headed in and that we are taking care of each other and taking the time to take care of ourselves.

Tuesday was the same. I rose with the sun, made my brew and we began our check-in at 9am. I had something I wanted to discuss and felt like she did too…5 minutes into our check-in, it came up: “So what are we doing to celebrate the summer solstice today? We have to do something.”

Immediately, I thought of bonfires, potlucks and community dances. No way to fold that into our workday. We turned to the internet. Making a Solar Wheel sounded like fun but not realistic. Reciting speeches from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (while beautiful) was not quite right.

I saw a photo. “What about a mandala?! Made of flowers.” It was decided. Our end-of-day task to celebrate intentions and nature and pretty things.

We spent the day apart, both working diligently at separate appointments but looking forward to our self-assigned project together. At 4pm we came together and set about Portland armed with a pair of okubo shears and a straw hat.

Walking around the neighborhood, we foraged for texture, color and shape. We gathered beautiful small parcels of blossoms and petals. Loosely gathered, they were sweet, celebratory bouquets of summer, pretty enough to eat.

Back at the house, we took turns working and arranging our mandalas.

Shannon’s reminded me of her—full, beautiful, layered, extending out at the edges, composed elegantly, tightly gathered at the center, of fragrant and soft textures. Placed formally on the table, protected.

Mine was…well, me. Focused on the details, layering outwards, bright, self contained, built with leftover parts to make a complete picture. Out in the open, ready to be shifted by the winds.

Remembering how Tibetan monks compose sand mandalas, I purposefully wanted to arrange mine outside, to let the elements disperse it. A reminder that change will always come. Nothing is fixed in time and we must appreciate it for the moments we witness it.

Flower petal mandala making was the perfect way for us to celebrate the summer solstice. Using materials that thrive on the energy of the sun to create art that honors the sun. To celebrate the fullness of life by celebrating the fullest day of the year. Today we focused on light.