Monthly Archives: June 2010

Snapshot: Flight

Spotted this week .. in a very prolific butterfly season, a Painted Lady butterfly in repose (in San Francisco, city of “Painted Ladies“, the name for its colorful, ornate Victorian homes.) This video shows the lifecycle of the Painted Lady butterfly.

Also seen: a busy female Anna’s hummingbird, enjoying the nectar of a Meyer Lemon tree in Mill Valley. This is a good general hummingbird site.

Happy gathering!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Snapshot: This Moment. Father’s Day, the Castro

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by Amanda Blake Soule and legions of lovely bloggers.

I hope you’ll be similarly inspired and leave a link with your own “moment.” I’d love to see it.

Have a great weekend!

Photos by Michael Lipman, Susan Sachs Lipman

Greeting Summer Solstice at Muir Beach

I last posted about Summer Solstice and the summer solstice cupcakes that we like to make to celebrate the longest day of the year and the beginning of the summer season. I also mentioned the celebration we attend at Muir Beach, hosted by the Muir Woods National Monument park rangers. Here are some photos of this year’s celebration (which was nice and warm! Some years, on our CA coast, it is blanketed with fog.)

If you want to see some other wonderful Midsummer celebrations in Canada and Scandinavia (including Sweden, where the day is a national holiday!), read this terrific piece by my friend Kari at Active Kids Club.

We walked around the bonfire to drumming, holding stalks of invasive (and unwanted) mustard plant, which we placed into the fire. As we welcomed the new season, we also symbolically let go of things that no longer served us.

Ranger Mia and others told us stories about how various animals, like the raven, and natural occurrences, like the tides, came to be, and led us in folk songs and summer cheers.

There was plenty of marshmallow roasting and playing on the small beach on the longest day of the year.

These folks did their own wonderful drumming, which pulsated along the beach.

It was a special start to a joyous season. Enjoy your summer!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Easy Summer Solstice Cupcakes

Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and the beginning of the summer season, is upon us June 21 this year, at 11:29 Universal Time, or 7:29 am on the U.S.’ east coast. Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, it can be marked by Midsummer festivals, especially in Scandinavia, where people celebrate with maypoles that honor nature’s bounty and bonfires that recall the heat and warmth of the sun. Still other cultures have solstice rituals that honor the sun, the feminine and the masculine.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, my family often attends a celebration at Muir Beach, hosted by the Muir Woods National Monument park rangers. We enjoy a bonfire, nature storytelling and campfire songs, and a ritual walk around the fire, holding stalks of sweet flowers and herbs, and then throwing them into the fire, to greet the new season and also let go of anything that no longer serves us.

An easy way to celebrate Summer Solstice, whether your gathering is a large one or a cozy one, is to make Summer Solstice Cupcakes. This recipe comes from the terrific book, Circle Round:

Just as Winter Solstice gives birth to the light, Summer Solstice, with its day that never seems to end, holds the seeds of darkness. We discover darkness in the bits of chocolate concealed inside this sunny cupcake.

1/2 C butter (one stick) softened in the summer sun

1 C sugar

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla extract

2 C flour, sifted first and then measured

pinch of salt

2 t. baking powder

1 C milk

1 C chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir in. Follow with 1/2 cup milk, then the other half of the flour mixture and the rest of the milk. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Use paper liners, or grease and flour cupcake tins. Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 375′ oven.

Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes.

Because of the sweetness of the cake and chips, these don’t need frosting, but you can certainly add it, in a solid color or a cheery sun or flower design.

This is a great explanation of how Summer Solstice works. Happy Winter Solstice to those in the Southern Hemisphere, who are marking the lengthening days. Perhaps chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate chips are in order?

Happy Solstice to all!

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman, Joy

This Moment 6.18

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by Amanda Blake Soule and legions of lovely bloggers.

I hope you’ll be similarly inspired and leave a link with your own “moment.” I’d love to see it.

Have a great weekend!

Tamalpais High pool, the first day of summer vacation.

Street Painting Festival: Children’s Art

I previously wrote about our wonderful, inspirational Italian Street Painting Festival, a tradition begun in 16th century Italy, with that era’s street painters, the madonnari. That festival has a whole section dedicated to the art of children (madonnarini?) — anyone old enough to hold a piece of chalk.


Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Street Painting Festival: Beautiful Temporary Art

In 16th century Italy, itinerant street painters — madonnari — were known for the images they created in public squares, using bits of broken roof tiles, charcoal, and white chalk. Their payment was often in food. Their depictions were often religious, including the Madonna that earned them their name.

Fast forward to modern cities all over the world, where people gather at street festivals to pay homage to the street painter, who now largely uses commercial chalk, and depicts subjects ranging from fine art portraits to comic book characters, nature scenes to technology.

My family is very fortunate to have an annual street painting festival right nearby — San Rafael, CA’s Italian Street Painting Festival, which, fittingly, like some of the early festivals, takes place in front of a church — this one, Mission San Rafael Arcangel.

Stroll with us through the recent Italian Street Painting Festival, as we enjoy the extreme creativity and talent of artists young and old.

There’s still more to come! My next post will feature the street painting of children.

Buona festa di madonnari!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman