“Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.” – Jean-Paul Sartre
Are you sure about that JP? Because the way I see it, the diem ain’t gonna carpe itself. And I want to ride my bike to the top of a hill and watch the sunrise in a middle of a stone circle on the longest day of the year. Here in NE Scotland, sunrise on the Summer Solstice is at 04:12, so three o’clock is actually just right for doing what I want to do.
Technically, 02:18 was the time I set out from my apartment in town along silent, dark streets – deserted but for the occasional drunk on their way home – but 03:00 was the designated time to set off from the traditional Velodees bus stop in Peterculter. Slightly bewildered that anyone had actually decided to take me up on my offer to lead a solstice ride before work, I met Karen, Doris, Angela, Marsaili, and eventually Aneeka, as we set off towards Banchory, picking up Paula and Trish along the way in Drumoak.
Before long, the sky morphed from black to misty shale, and we turned off the main road, climbing towards Nine Stanes Stone Circle in Mulloch Wood, or what is left of Mulloch Wood after recent felling. We reached the top by 04:02, with ten minutes to spare before sunrise. Steeling ourselves for life-affirming views, the low morning fog that had threatened to spoil our vistas maintained its dominance, and we had to make do with admiring a slightly pinkish hue on one of the thick clouds skirting the horizon.
Still, it was a rare treat to be out in the country at the crack of dawn, surrounded by like-minded people, and enjoying some hot drinks and cinnamon buns courtesy of Trish. There are few other ways I’d have preferred to spend my Solstice morning.
Refuelled, and starting to feel the morning chill, we set off down the hill towards Strachan before circling back towards Banchory, then beginning our homeward journey along North Deeside Road. One by one, the groups peeled off, until I was back by myself for the final solitary miles.
By three o’clock in the afternoon, the time was perfect to have a nap. And as the forecast rain hammered against my living room window, that is precisely what I wanted to do.