The Summer Solstice

Keeping bees makes one more aware of the Wheel of the Year.

bee summer solstice

The 2013 Summer Solstice occurs at 1:04 am EDT on Friday, June 21st.  It’s the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

A solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest point relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere.

The Summer Solstice is also referred to as Midsummer’s Eve. It’s an important holiday in much of the Northern Hemisphere, and was very important to many ancient cultures.

While the cultural symbols associated with the Summer Solstice vary between different cultures, the Solstice has always been a significant day in the Wheel of the Year.

The general themes associated with the Solstice are fertility, fire, celebration, healing, and magic. Many of the celebrations were accompanied by large bonfires (especially on shorelines), feasting, singing, dancing, and the gathering of medicinal/magic plants.

summer-solstice-fire--sommersonnenwendfeuer-franziska-marie-orbach

The Solstice is thought to be the time “when the forces of nature are at their most powerful, and the boundaries between the physical and spiritual worlds are thinnest.” The term used in modern times — solstice — is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).

If you stand inside the Stonehenge monument on the day of the northern Summer Solstice, facing northeast through the entrance towards a rough hewn stone outside the circle – known as the Heel Stone – you will see the sun rise above the Heel Stone, as illustrated in the image below.

Stonehenge_heel_stone

Cheery Cranberry Cocktails

Have you ever noticed how many mixed drinks contain cranberry juice? Why is that, I wondered?  

The answer was easy to find. Cranberry juice is unique in that it can can be paired with a variety of flavors and will nearly always taste great.

In many mixed drinks cranberry juice is used to finish off a drink or to give it that “something special”. Cranberry juice’s sweet and tart flavor pairs well with practically any type of alcohol including vodka, gin, bourbon, rum and tequila. It even enhances the flavor of Champagne!

In addition to the drinks below, there is cranberry juice in The Samhain and also in The Bee-tini, which you can find in Cooking With Honey.

Honey Cranberry Champagne Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1-ounce cranberry juice (sweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 wedge lime
  • Champagne or sparkling wine
  • Cranberries (frozen)

Directions

In a chilled Champagne flute add cranberry juice, honey and a squeeze of lime. Stir gently until honey is blended in.  Top off the glass with Champagne. Garnish with 3 or 4 cranberries.

Honey Cranberry Slush

Photo courtesy of Amy Marrero Doyle

Ingredients 

1 cup frozen cranberry juice concentrate

1/2 cup honey

juice of 1 lemon

1 (12 ounce) can chilled lemon-lime soda

1 cup bourbon

Directions

In a medium bowl, stir together the cranberry juice concentrate, honey, lemon juice, lemon-lime soda and bourbon. Cover and freeze overnight. It will remain slushy because of the bourbon. Scoop spoonfuls into small glasses to serve as a cocktail.

Recipe makes 6 servings

My First Night In The City

I think London needs a proper nickname.  It really doesn’t have one, not like “The Big Apple” or “The Windy City.”

I’m thinking we should give it one!!

And, given London’s plethora of urban beekeepers, I think it should be something bee-related.  Maybe “The Big Hive” or, even better, “The Queen City.”  That one does double duty!!

Just some suggestions..

I’m thrilled to have arrived in London on the day of the Summer Solstice. I didn’t plan it that way, but it was a nice bit of synchronicity.  The sun even cooperated, making the afternoon very pleasant!!

Here is an original cocktail recipe to celebrate!

The Summer Solstice

½ yellow nectarine
1 lemon wedge
1 tangerine wedge
4  mint leaves
½ oz peach liqueur
1 oz. cognac
½ oz honey

Muddle the nectarine, lemon, and tangerine at the bottom of your shaker. Add ice, liqueur, honey, cognac and mint (slap the mint first), then shake. Pour into an old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice.

Tomorrow morning will find me at Fortnum’s, touring the bee hives!  I will report on my visit promptly!!