I believe in traditions. They allow you to hit a reset button in order to be mindful. They are sometimes a little messy and quirky but that is what makes them endearing. Some of my families best traditions started on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s an island that slows down the pace and by doing so puts things into perspective. We all need a time to focus on what matters. Right now, I am thinking about a tradition that my husband and I started one summer on the Vineyard. I’ll always look back on that moment frozen in time with a grateful heart and some humor.
I never paid much attention to the summer solstice until our vacation that year. The word solstice comes from two Latin words, “sol”, meaning sun, and “sistere,” meaning to stop or stand still. It’s a day of mindfulness and beauty in simplicity. These are two words that often come to mind when I think of the island. There were all types of celebrations planned that day, but we came up with a different idea.
Earlier that day, we planned on heading to the Gay Head Lighthouse and cliffs to watch the solstice and have a romantic picnic.
That was our plans at least. On our way we grabbed some salads to- go in Vineyard Haven. In the back of the car was a bottle of wine, paper napkins, and glasses in our makeshift picnic basket. The entire drive you could hear the glasses clinking in the basket as we drove the stretch to Aquinnah.
It was unusually cold and windy. Driving along the road to Aquinnah, we dodged wild turkeys and deer. Everyone had somewhere to go that day. Once we arrived, I sounded like an excited kid telling my husband to hurry. We joined others who were standing on the cliffs looking at the sky and the sea below. Some were in groups to shelter from the wind which left you breathless. I imagined chasing swirling paper napkins for our impromptu picnic. Both of us quickly dashed the idea. We huddled close together trying to shield ourselves from the wind. The lighthouse sent out its iconic red beam of light just as it has done for years. We watched the sun in all its glory, ablaze in a raspberry colored sky. Nothing was more important than standing in this space and time with my husband. Isn’t that how it should be? The sea, the sun, and the moon are powerful forces. They always bring us back to where we belong.
Time moved slowly on the cliff. It was peaceful. The wind began to whistle harder and we decided to make our way back to the car. The moon was bright and followed us along our drive through Chilmark. As we drove, I saw a barn door left open just enough to see a few paper lanterns glowing and swaying in the wind. Our favorite vineyard music was playing, Life was sweet. On the drive back we laughed at ourselves with crazy wind whipped hair and wilted salads in the back seat. Some might say that we didn’t quite get it right that day, yet in our minds, it was perfect. We created a summer tradition on the Vineyard. A time to stop, be mindful, and always count your blessings.