The shortest night of the year has passed.  Even the fact that it rained most of the night didn't stop us from enjoying ourselves.  This year I relaxed, and though we were the hosts, we didn't stress about too much.  When, after it had grown dark, we realized the rain was not going to stop, we pushed aside the furniture,  musicians pulled out their violins and accordions and drums and we danced indoors. Jāņi came and went so fast - a huge bustle of song and friends and food and ritual - flowers and oak leaves and wheels of homemade cheese.  Jāņi is the most exciting and even sacred celebration of our year.  Every year it is different, and every year I am sad that it is over.

Jem the firestarter with his ill-fated masterpiece - instead of rolling down the hill in a ball of flame, it was waterlogged, and took a long time to catch fire... and broke apart on the first push down the hill.  Oh well.  Better luck next year!  His other fire constructions worked admirably, despite the rain. 

Two ladies looking fabulous.  Photo title: "...not our babies!!!"

My little traditionalist

Decorating, decorating...

Mazākais Jāņa bērns un Jānu māte (ha!  Sound downright weird in translation:  the youngest child of Jāņi and the mother of Jāņi)

Tea parties


Ooops!  Rain's cleared - lets pass the food down the line to get it back on the table

Saying goodbye to the sun

So it starts pouring.  Again.  Ilga and I decide to chase away the rain single handedly, by singing, singing, singing....anything.  Everything.   .... didn't work!

So what to do - move the party inside

With a break in the rain, we lit up our new fire sculpture - made by a Rīga artist of welded together bike parts.  Awesome.  

Amazingly, the kids managed to stay up until dawn this year.  Other years most of them have passed out.  Mikus, of course, led the charge, and was a full participant and initiator of all of our different rituals. Here he is letting a "sky lantern" go before dawn - to bring back the sun

The day after - hanging out with our dear friends who came all the way from Brisvegas to enjoy the festivities.

Looking back at the photos, they are pretty much the same as every other year.  That's tradition for you, I guess! The most beautiful night of the year is over, and I am already counting down the days until we celebrate it again...

So obviously, this is why I haven't been around.  Things have reached their regular summer intensity around here. The snow melted in mid April, and within a couple of weeks we were thrust into full-blown riotous greenery and summer frivolity.  The weather has been  stupidly fabulous since then - everyone, even the winter-hardened local are feeling bowled over by the full-on summer that has just descended on us.  I know they say bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, but "they" have obviously never seen Latvian lawns after a long winter.  We arrived in the country a few weeks ago to find the lawn had grown up to our waists.   Totally insane.

So to cut another weather related post short, I ask you - why blog when you can be enjoying your summer school holidays:

Reading Harry Potter under the oak to a rapt audience

Having a water fight


Frolicking in fields of poppies

Mowing the grass

Reading in bed before you get up in the morning

I've got to admit that another reason why my blogging has slowed of late is because Jem bought me an iPod. And I am finally able to post my "status updates" in visual form on Instagram.  So most of you blog readers don't know what I'm up to, while the 3 people who follow me on Instagram are getting hourly photographic updates on my life.  Scintillating, I know.  To those 3 people, let me reassure you - the shine will wear off soon! And to those of you who want hourly updates, look for me: hellolatvia

Must work out how to put my own Instagram feed on the side of the blog - the one you see now is Jem's.  Hmmm, maybe the next rainy day...


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