Today, at 12:16 PM Central Daylight Time, the Summer Solstice occurs, marking the astronomical moment when the sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky, resulting in the longest day of the year.

Bats on Congress Ave. Brid?ge in Austin. Remind you of butterflies?

Bats at Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin.  Remind you of butterflies?

Solstice means “sun stands still.”  The day has been one of celebration for millenia. The Summer Solstice festival at Stonehenge in Wiltshire County, England,  started with the Druids and is probably the most well-known.  Thousands of revelers make the June pilgrimage.
Here in the U.S., we might be tempted to use the extra daylight to work.  But why not take a cue from the Druids and celebrate the reassuring cycles of nature by doing something special?

Monarch butterflies at Cerro Pelon, Michoacan

Monarch butterflies at Cerro Pelon, Michoacan.    Remind you of bats?

Nature’s cycles can restore the soul.   From the turns of the sun and moon to the Monarch migration each fall, these natural, predictable events provide balance to the chaos of climate change, drought, wildfires and crazy floods.   And the dreadful economy.
A group of friends and I will celebrate tonight by heading down to Austin’s Congress Avenue bridge.   There, up to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats will swoop from the eaves shrouding Ladybird Lake, just as the sun sets on Summer Solstice 2011.
Hundreds of spectators share this ritual every summer evening between March and October. In autumn, the bats respond to a cyclical clue and migrate to Mexico for the winter.  Just like Monarch butterflies.
Happy Summer Solstice.