The Summer Solstice is that magical day when whatever hemisphere you are on is most directly aimed at that big glowing ball of burning hydrogen that we call the sun. It is an event known by different names throughout the world: Midsummer, Kupala Night, Roger, Susan, and Jāņi to name a few. The celebrations often take the form of lighting huge bonfires, drinking heavily, and dancing around a bunch of upright stones.
In RVA, we take things a little less seriously.
The Friends of the James River Park celebrated by inviting people to come down to the Kanawha Canal (which George Washington himself dug with a pickaxe and a hand spade!), light candles, send them floating, and make a wish.
I gathered my equipment, slung it on my back, kissed my wife goodbye and headed out in 168° weather with a humidity of at least 626%. Hey, I’m always up for setting things on fire.
About 35 people (and a couple dogs) braved the mind-melting heat (I exaggerate… a bit) to send candles drifting downstream. Reports from Fort Eustis in Newport News had the candles arriving in the area at around 3:30 AM and setting fire to the Ghost Fleet. The U.S. Maritime Administration would like to personally thank Ralph White for solving that problem for them. Obviously, I am joking. The candles were picked up at a top secret location (a bridge) by a team of genies (Friends of James River Park folks) who ensured that all wishes were duly granted. (That part’s true.)
Watching the candles float down the canal, I could help but think of gondolas floating through Venice, Italy. Little, paper, festive, burning gondolas… but gondolas none-the-less.
All-in-all it was a nice night. Judging by the current temperatures no one seems to have wished for cooler weather, but whatever… I hope everyone who participated has all of their wishes come true. The rest of you are out of luck!