Summer Solstice Reflections

*I don’t usually post twice in one day. But, it’s the Summer Solstice, so I had a little extra daylight! Hope you enjoy!

I popped out of bed early this morning, so I could get a walk with the dog before the day turned molten hot. I always enjoy my walks, but on the Summer Solstice, I feel an extra sweet anticipation. This day marks a change. The days are no longer slowly stretching toward summer; instead, we have reached the pinnacle, the 24-hour-period where we experience the most daylight during the year.

I grew up a sun worshipper. I couldn’t wait for summer, for long days on the beach, sea breezes and bare feet on damp sand. I lived on the North Carolina coast when I was in high school and returned there every summer after school to visit my parents. So, it’s not surprising, I suppose, that I would be drawn to the Summer Solstice.

But there’s more to it. I like order, and somehow the Summer Solstice is one of the four dates that divides the year into equal parts (Summer Solstice, Autumnal Equinox, Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox). I was born on the Autumnal Equinox, so I learned of it early and felt, as a nature lover, that it was a part of who I was.

It’s hard to explain what that means exactly, other than to say I feel the seasons deep within me. My spirit is attuned to the natural rhythms of the world we live in. That’s probably true for most poets and many writers. I feel as if nature speaks to me. I sense it as I move through my life, and I miss it if I’m inside too long.

That’s probably why I insisted we live in the wood in a house with lots of windows. And I wouldn’t let my husband cut down many trees. We had to cut a few to make room for our house, and I felt a searing in my body when the blade sawed through their trunks.

I feel as if the Summer Solstice has lessons to teach me each year. I can’t always wrap them up in a nice, neat package. But I like to clear a space in my day, so I can simply be outside and listen.

Truth be told, I always grieve a bit after the Summer Solstice. Even though we still have the bulk of summer to celebrate, knowing the daylight is slowly slipping away makes me sad. It signifies change. And change can be hard. I like my routines, and when life gradually shifts into something less recognizable, it’s not all that comfortable.

Today is #TheLongestDay, a day set aside to honor caregivers who have long days every day. My life is lighter now, but my mother had Alzheimer’s for 14 years, so my heart can’t help but be aligned with these caregivers. Also, my mother’s birthday is next week, so she is present in my thoughts, maybe even more than usual.

Maybe the Summer Solstice is about cupping our hands, so we can hold both the intense joy and the soul-shredding grief. A day to pause in the middle, where the sun is not stretching or shrinking, but simply being its bright self, burning to its fullest capacity.


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A Writer’s Garden: Where Beauty Blooms

A new thing has been stirring inside me. I’m not exactly sure what it is. A need for change or growth perhaps?

A few weeks ago, I threw myself into a gardening project. I looked around my yard and realized that it no longer brought me joy. Not only that, it made me want to avert my eyes and turn away, in shame. Why?

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Trip to Florida, Part IV: The Miami Book Festival

(This is a four-part series. Click here to read Part I.)

After packing and saying our goodbyes to Jean and Vicki, Gilda and I drove south towards Alligator Alley. I was excited to be driving across Florida and to get a view of the everglades. My father, a civil engineer for the Army, had worked throughout South Florida on various projects before I was born. The names of towns were familiar to me because I had grown up listening to him talk about them.

Alligator Alley: on the side of the road.

While I felt as if I were home and had hopes of catching a glimpse of an alligator, Gilda’s husband Stu had warned her not to get out of the car because he’d been warned there were large snakes in the area. Gilda wasn’t sure what to do when I pulled over and asked her to take a photo of me by the water. Read the rest of this entry »

Trip to Florida, Part III: An Honorary AlzAuthor

(This is a four-part series. Click here to read Part I.)

Gilda joined me in Naples on Thursday night. I had shared with Jean and Vicki how much I loved Gilda, that she was wise and funny, a delight to be with and a wonderful writer. They welcomed her at the condo and into the fold. I had also shared with Jean and Vicki how Gilda often talked about AlzAuthors in her writing classes.

Gilda had firsthand experience with Alzheimer’s. Several female members of her extended family have developed dementia. Gilda was also one of the few friends who had visited my mother during the last stage of her life. Jean named Gilda an “honorary” AlzAuthor.

Jean, Vicki and I toasting. Gilda took the photo.

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Trip to Florida, Part II, An Amazing Author Connection

(This is a four-part series. Click here to read Part I.)

Once I made the decision to go to Florida, I felt a magnetic pull through the next several weeks of preparations. Jean Lee of AlzAuthors stayed in touch and shared details about flying, car rentals, the weather in Naples and what to expect.

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Trip to Florida, Part I: An Inner Pull

(This is a 4-part series. Click here to read Part II.)

Just settling down after a whirlwind of activity … so much going on in November, much of it swirling around the eye of the 10th anniversary of my mother’s passing. I suppose it should be no surprise that my poetry collection, The Beach Poems, was released in November, since it was a group of poems that came to me slowly after my mother’s death. The beach itself returned to me, a place I had almost forgotten; it surged back into my life carrying with it memories of my mother and deep pools of reflection.

The beach surged back into my life, bringing with it memories of my mother.

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The Story Behind The Beach Poems

(This post was first published on the AlzAuthors‘ blogsite.)

“The Beach Poems” by Ann Campanella

CvrBeachPoems_AdExpressing the Inexpressible through Poetry

By Ann Campanella

When I was in my early thirties, my mother began showing signs of Alzheimer’s. She was 41 when I was born, so I suppose it shouldn’t have been a shock to see her aging in this way. But it was.

I always knew she was an “older mom.” She had been a fount of wisdom for me during my adolescence and early years of marriage.

Mom always said her children kept her young. There was a span of ten years among us, and I had vivid memories of my mother hiking, playing tennis, swimming and sailing at the upstate New York lake we visited each summer.

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