The Summer Solstice Does Not Honor Us

Achievement: #13. Celebrate the Solstice | #26. Take Pictures of 20 Pittsburgh Gargoyles

So, if you’ve been reading our blog for awhile, you will recall that every time it comes to something nature- or outdoors-related, I have a tendency to suddenly believe that I am in my element. It’s like, we go outside for a minute, and I instantly become my Pagan Gypsy ancestors (yes, believe me, you can be both), and I am ready to dance in the middle of the woods and chant around a bottle of wine or travel through the wildnerness with only the clothes on my back.

And yeah, I grew up in the woods (and did spend a fair amount of time ‘in the middle’ of them), and we did crazy Bridge to Terabithia-style things like swing on vines and cross creeks high up in the air by running on trees that had fallen across the banks.

But I’ve also been a city girl for quite some time now, and I think I sometimes forget that. And so sometimes, when I’m really trying hard to get in touch with my roots, it just all gets screwed up.

We started the Pre-Solstice Celebration well enough: the afternoon before, I bought some awesome corn on the cob, which Michael cooked on the grill. Oh, they were perfect! And then I ate like half a watermelon, just to make sure I was really ringing in the summer correctly!

But I wanted to do things really, really right for the solstice. I decided the true celebration would start at midnight, because I figured that’s when my Pagan ancestors probably started things. Unfortunately, these days, we are usually in bed by midnight, so it was a little bit of a struggle to get Michael up and ready for the festivities.

I, on the other hand, was in annoying-kid-the-night-before-vacation mode. I was running around and listening to ‘summer’ songs and dancing around and being a general nuisance that prevented him from getting any sleep. This, of course, did not matter to me, because It Was The Solstice, and I Was Super Nerding Out.

Even though it was about 9000% humidity, I decided to take the time to do my hair, because I read that my Pagan ancestors did that sort of thing, and apparently, they wore flowers in their hair. Since it was late at night, and I had forgotten to go out and get flowers earlier in the day when shops that sell flowers were open, I had to settle for this one random pink flower that I found somewhere in a box when we moved.

So, armed with my frizzy hair and pink flower, we went out into the night and directly over to… Harris Grill. They were the only restaurant we could think of that was open at midnight on a Monday with outdoor seating. You can see me here, enjoying a summertime iced tea of some sort. It was really good!

Michael had one of their Manhattans, which is not NEARLY as summery as my drink, so clearly, at just past midnight, I was winning the Solstice race.

After we sat around outside talking about the summer and other Druid-y things like potions and goat cheese for awhile, I decided it was time to go out and fulfill our Solstice destiny: clearly, just after midnight on a Monday night was the absolute best time to go off in search of gargoyles.

Our Achievement #26 this year is to take pictures of 20 Pittsburgh gargoyles. Well, little did I know, Pittsburgh does not have all that many gargoyles outside of that exhibit at Phipps Conservatory. I thought they were all over churches and public buildings… until I started looking for them. Turns out this is going to be quite a tough Achievement!

We did find these familiar gargoyles over in Lawrenceville. We’ve walked past them many times back in our days on Mintwood Street, but they’re a lot harder to photograph from a car as you’re driving past than I imagine they would have been if we’d stopped while walking home from Thunderbird.

Then I insisted on driving into downtown, where I had read that there were some gargoyles (which I insisted on calling Midnight Gargoyles that night) on a church on 6th Avenue. And there very well may be, except that at 1:30am, it was pitch black in the general location of church gargoyles, and we couldn’t see a damn thing.

So my next idea was to get up early as hell (since I was already losing Michael and I knew there was no way I’d get him to stay up straight through the night) to see the sun rise over the Monongahela River.

Except that when we woke up at 5am, it was raining. You can’t see a sunrise if it’s raining!

After this, I was pretty disappointed in my Solstice attempts. At least I knew I had one moment of triumph left: at 1:16pm, it would finally *truly* be the Solstice, and I could impress my husband with my fantastic egg-balancing skills.

So 1:16pm was when I realized that it’s not the Summer Solstice after all that lets you balance an egg. Either that, or my fifth grade science teacher was working some crazy Pagan magic!

Things went progressively downhill from there. I couldn’t find any Midnight Gargoyles, I’m too afraid of aliens and sasquatches to dance in the woods at night, the sky rained all through sunrise, and my damn egg kept falling over.

I closed out the Summer Solstice by sitting on my back steps, drinking my first Bartles & Jaymes of the season (the official malt beverage of summer), and taking emo pictures of the sky, thinking about how the days were only going to get shorter after this.

It was too hot to make a fire for my husband to jump over in hopes of predicting the height of our crops this fall, and while a friend of mine who is a far better Pagan than myself suggested that rolling naked in the morning dew could be done to improve ‘creative’ fertility, and not just the baby-having kind, I was not about to take any risky chances. With the kind of solstice I was already having, I could not be too careful.

Thankfully for us, each year brings two solstices, and we’ve still got winter ahead to hopefully meet with more success. And while it may snow too much for us to search for Midnight Gargoyles, we can definitely still have a booze or two at Harris Grill, and this time, maybe it won’t rain when the sun is doing important things.

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Filed under #13, #13-11, #26, #26-11, disappointment, drinking, holiday, outside, solstice, summer

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