We would take a walk in the evenings to pick herbs and flowers. Outside her window, she would place a bowl of water with elderberry leaves and rose petals; she would also place an egg white in a cup. On the following morning, she would wash her face with the flower water and would look into the cup to find God knows what in it. She would buy some sardines, and we would not make a fire, but my father would bring some bread from a wood-fired oven somewhere, and our neighbor, Lola would be intertwining proverbs: “by St. John…” They, like many other mothers, had their own particular way of celebrating the summer solstice.
To celebrate that the Sun remains still, that from that day on the days will become shorter, that there is a change in the cycle, or simply being able to stay still, even for a little while to wonder about the flowers who surround me is to remember, weeping, that I am privileged.
The solstice brings summer, and with summer come the massive movement of refugees and migrants who flee death and slavery, confronting those two things on the sea. Less than one hundred years ago, it was Galicians who fled and sought refuge wherever they were accepted. This week, on World Refugee Day, sees published data on the demographic decline of our land: to read on the same page about the dangers of the grave demographic crisis that Galicia suffers and about the dangers of the grave immigration crisis that our Mediterranean coasts suffer gives one much to think about.
Galicia, the one with a demographic problem, received approximately 300 refugees last year. And I, when I finally manage to stay still, imagine the harsh reasons that prompted the flight of our people and of those fleeing today, and I imagine the realities that Galicians found wherever they went and the realities which refugees find today. And so, desolate, I welcome summer.