Monday, June 21, 2010

Solstice: June 21, 2010

Sunrise will happen at 5:11, sunset will be 9:11.

It's Solstice. I looked ahead to tomorrow's sunrise and we're already on that subtle slide to winter: 5:12. We are heading into the dark once again and we've had so little sun to actually worship.

D and I are on our way to experience to sunrise on the solstice the way you should: watching it come-even though we can't see it! And the high today? 61 degrees.

Books about the solstice that I really like are mostly kids' books: Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here by the best naturalist writer for kids around, Jean Craighead George; The Longest Day, by Wendy Pfeffer, and The Faraway Lurs,by Harry Behn.

I mentioned The Faraway Lurs in a past entry but I don't think I told you about it. It was one of the books that, even in 7th grade, changed the route of my life. It is the story of a stone-age girl named Heather, a princess of her tribe called the Tree People, and Wolf Stone, the son of chieftain of an iron-age tribe called the Sun People, and the subduction of one world as the other rolls over it.

One hot summer morning, Heather and her slave are in the trees looking for honey when they hear the sound of horns, the lurs. The horns have always been a sign of bad things to come, war and hatred, death, and Heather's slave has encountered them before.

When Wolf Stone and Heather meet (you knew they would), they fall in love and think that their love will conquer everything including the sacrifice that Heather must give and the horrible way the Sun People take what they want.

I was just the exact right age for this book- Romeo and Juliet (the Leonard Whiting/Olivia Hussey vehicle) was out, I was 12 or 13 years old, beginning to think about the future and my place in it, boys, getting my ears pierced, full of the romance girls feel when they begin to sense the woman they could be...

This was a book that was full of facts about what living in a world in these ancient days would have been like and I really wanted to be a girl like Heather. She was lighthearted, strong, funny, responsible, curious. A moment of that curiosity changes her life.

The romance between Heather and Wolf Stone must have seemed so huge to me at that age, having never had a boyfriend, no kisses yet, and being very shy and uncomfortable around people. The whole idea of this girl and this boy giving up everything to be together...sigh...

I'm sure you can guess what happens next.

This book instilled in me a lifelong love of reading novels filled with science and explanation. I LOVE books that try to fill in the blanks about times and people we know a little bit about. Books that take place in biblical time fascinate me, books that use fiction to explain why traditions and holidays exist, books that expand one piece of iron age information into a whole world.

I don't think I would have picked up a textbook on the subject of the stone age just to read it. I would have thought it interesting and maybe read the captions under the pictures but not necessarily gotten through it all if it didn't have something in it to make it personal, make it live and breathe, make me want to know what happens next. The Faraway Lurs made the subject matter sing for me.

I love reading books that make connections that allow me to see how chemistry and time travel and biology work... A Wrinkle in Time, Green Glass Sea, Alabama Moon, Dark Life. These are all books that use science and fact to further the fictional story. It's one thing to know that bog children were found in Denmark, it's altogether something else to read about how that child may have lived and loved and why she died.

I think The Faraway Lurs and A Wrinkle in Time and those other novels that use science to explain the world truly made me want to be a teacher- I couldn't decide what to do- I wanted to do everything. I started college as a biology major, switched to Psych (of course- didn't we all?) and then realized that I could do it all as an Ed major! Why settle for one subject when you can learn it all? (Now, if only people had more children to fill the schools and fewer teachers were out there when I graduated!)

Anyway. It's Solstice, even though it's overcast and wet. I heard that the fence around Stonehenge was open and people could watch the sun rise over the heel stone. They were allowed to touch the stones. Imagine that!

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