Summer arrives: Do druids drink gin-and-tonics?

Dark and mysterious Stonehenge…Where I won’t be as the summer solstice arrives. On the other hand, I bet the druids won’t be cooling off on this first sweltering night of official summer with a nice tall gin-and-tonic (with lime).

If I happened to be a druid, I suppose I’d be at Stonehenge, dancing and cavorting and chanting and just generally carrying on and making a happy ruckus as the sun set and rose over those magnificent and mysterious stones right at the moment when spring gives way to summer.

But I’m not a druid — and I’m not anywhere near Stonehenge — so I suppose today and tomorrow will be spent somewhere in the swamps of Jersey in hot pursuit of coolness and cold…as temperatures approach 100 degrees for the first time this year, just in time for the solstice and summer.

We’re talking gin-and-tonics (with lime) after dark on the porch. We’re talking not much more exertion than what’s required to turn on the air-conditioner and maybe turn the pages of whatever book we’re reading, which probably should be something like “The Iceman Cometh,”  or to turn on the DVD player to watch a movie, which probably should not be something like “In the Heat of the Night.”

Speaking of druids and mysterious stones, I made my way a few days ago to Ringing Rocks State Park in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. There they were– not moved since that last time I was there, about fifteen years ago: an amazing field of large boulders covering at least a couple of acres. The boulders were deposited there, geologists say, by the leading edge of an ancient glacier.

Stone-cold truth: These boulders at Ringing Rocks in Upper Black Eddy, Pa., have been there ever since a glacier left them there millions of years ago,

I remember hearing through the years about strange nighttime gatherings at Ringing Rocks,  and I have vague memory of a big New Age gathering happening there a few years back when there was a lot of hoo-hah and ballyhoo over some cosmic event called the Harmonic Convergence.

More recently, the boulders were still an impressive sight and a great source of amusing, overheard comments from others who’d come to swing a hammer at the rocks to hear their unusual chime-like ring:

“I’ve never seen so many rocks!”

“Man, this would be a great place to come and get stoned!”

“Yeah. Or to have a ROCK concert!”

“This place ROCKS!”

You get the idea. I guess it’s Stone Age, Stonehenge, stoner humor.

One thing about heat. It’s made for some great music. Here are four of my favorite summertime songs by (in order) Sly Stone, Carole King, the Rascals and Bruce Springsteen:


Yesterday, indeed

My son’s doing a study abroad program in London, where he just visited the British Museum and saw (among, I’m sure, many other wonders) two of the four original manuscripts of Magna Carta and handwritten original Beatles lyrics including “Yesterday” by Sir Paul McCartney.

The “Yesterday” lyrics are 40-something years old. The Magna Carta’s a little less poetic but was already, what, 750 years old or so when McCartney got this melody stuck in his head — a melody he originally titled “Scrambled Eggs” as a sort of placeholder until he came up with a song (written by a rich young man in his early 20s, mind you, in which he bemoaned bygone days when he was young and innocent and carefree.

One thing that “Yesterday” has over Magna Carta: It’s a little punchier, a little more poetic, a little more evocative, and a lot easier to hum along with. But Magna Carta is actually interesting reading, with stuff like “No sheriff of bailiff of ours or of anyone else is to take anyone’s horses or carts to make carriage unless he renders the payment customarily due, namely for a two-horse cart ten pence a day, and for a three-horse cart fourteen pence a day…”

And it’s probably will prove to be a little more important in the long term than the lyrics of the Beatles, although I do expect they will still be listened to and revered hundreds of years from now, just like Betthoven and Bach.

But the Magna Carta…I might not have the freedom to write this blog, to express myself freely, if not for that little declaration by the British King John, who in 1215 basically succumbed to public pressure agreed that even monarch were obliged to follow and respect the rule of law. Without the Magna Carta there probably would not have been an American Revolution — in which the colonists basically reminded King George that he was forgetting where he came from…

In any event, seeing the Magna Carta and Beatles lyrics on the very same day seems to me almost more than the human eye can stare at safely in the course of one day of seeing. I’d say there’s a decent chance that my son — who has also seen some other amazing sights in Paris (including Notre Dame cathedral) and elsewhere in England (including Stonehenge and St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Parliament building and, most significant of them all, the crosswalk at Abbey Road) will need a stronger prescription for his glasses when he gets back home in about two weeks.