The Solstice horn...part 2

Did I say I wasn't getting up for sunrise? The gods put paid to that. I woke of my own accord at 3.30am and thus it was settled.

We went to Nattadon Hill, Meldon's little sister. It proved a good choice as Meldon was soon covered in cloud.

We found only one other person but as he hardly exuded solsticial bonhomie we tactfully left him to his solitude.

The valleys were filled with a skein of bird song. We heard two cuckoos, which, according to the rhyme I learned as a child, should be on their way back to Africa:

The cuckoo comes in April,
Sings a song in May,
Whistles a tune in the middle of June,
And then 'e flies away.

The hawthorn is still in bloom, at midsummer, another warning sign that the climate has been irrevocably sundered. Calendrical rituals allow such checking in. They remind us where we are and where we've got to.

Through intermittent mizzle we watched the sky turn grey. No sign of the sun, though a brief break in the cover revealed high clouds tinged with gold. I welcomed them with a blast on the Solstice horn and as I did so I thought of all my friends keeping watch on other hilltops.

It's a batty English ritual, one that seems daft when the weather is inclement, and yet somehow the doing of it matters, come what may. I'm glad we didn't stay abed, however much I might regret that later.


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