For the last three years we have yomped up to the top of Hartshead Pike in Ashton on Midsummer’s Day, the idea being to watch the sunset on the longest day, and for three years old Sol Invictus has been victa by the clouds.
This year started promisingly with the sun beaming on the Pike as we approached up the hill, as you can see from the photo, but even as I steadied my camera, Mrs P was telling me that I had about three minutes before the clouds would block out the sunlight.
At just under 1,000 feet, Hartshead Pike commands a view of Manchester and Oldham on one side and Mossley and the Pennines on the other. It was originally a beacon point for the Roman garrisons and flares into life still on special occasions, such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
It used to be open to the public and included a sweet shop of all things, but closed at the outbreak of World War Two and has been bricked up ever since. The country park wardens have a key to the graffiti covered door, although the only thing left in there are some gas canisters used to power the lights for the jubilee.
But enough of the local history lesson, there was a goodly sized group of us there for the solstice and part of the entertainment was a poem written and read by our friend Lesley which I thought I’d set down here with some more of my photos.
A Relationship with the Sun
Where were you last night?
Don’t cloud the issue with excuses, or baffle me with scientific facts.
I was the one lying there in the dark.
You didn’t even cover your tracks.
The moon and stars reflected your movements –
Hemisphere hopper. Two timer, Cheat.
I found her picture in the holiday brochure, half a world away,
Young, bikini clad, worshiping you,
Hot… and bronzed –
I hope she burns!
Don’t give me the same excuse: “I was here all the time – it was you who moved”
I expected a bit more loyalty – more commitment.
How can you spend MY night with her and then slowly rise next day as if it was the most natural thing in the world?
Don’t think I didn’t notice you, creeping back in the morning, glinting through the chink in the curtains
The times you have let me down.
You’d promise to be there and never show.
I’d be left cold and coatless in the rain
It’s no wonder I get annoyed
I’ve made plans – things to do
You have the nerve to glare through the streaky window and point out the dust.
Yet just expect me to drop everything, start peeling off the layers and come outside, spend time with you
And I do…
Blinded by you glare, I remember past ‘solar powered’ summer days,
You’d set the world alight with your smile, I’d soak up your heat,
Warmed by your embrace, bare footed, bare skinned we’d seize the day
And even as the seasons turned and you weakened, you’d always keep in touch,
I’d catch your last light on autumn evenings
You’d surprise me with and unexpected visit on a winter’s day
Bring me sparkled snow and melted the ice.
My kissed skin fading, a lingering reminder of you
And look at you now…
Admirers gathering, gazing, worshiping, fire lighting, ritual dancing
All eyes on you
Your ‘look at me’ longest day
Your time for turning
You so ‘high in the sky and mighty’ – you call the shots
I guess it’s always been about you
But when the summer solstice-soaked party’s over and your light fades,
and your followers fly south to find you,
I’ll be here… waiting