Annual ceremony to launch summer

The annual ceremony we mark around the time of the summer solstice goes deep in our cultural consciousness.

The annual ceremony we mark around the time of the summer solstice goes deep in our cultural consciousness. Like the winter festivals of Christmas and New Year, or the Celtic festival of Beltane, that marked the beginning of summer, the celebration of the Grade 12 graduates is a symbolic affirmation that our society is moving forward towards an ultimate good.

This is a moment when we can relax our anxieties about the future, for Graduation reminds us that there is a younger generation to save us from ourselves, and its moment will arrive soon. They have put themselves through that long grind, acquiring knowledge, confidence and ability, and will now head out into the world. Out there, they will have remarkable adventures, experiences beyond comprehension, revelations, epiphanies, triumphs and set-backs, battles and feuds. They will make fortunes and lose them, create great inventions and destroy them in fits of pique. They will have legendary romances, comings together and partings of the ways, and we will cover our ears when we hear their revolutionary music. They might yet, through alchemy we haven’t heard of yet, turn lead into gold.

Then they will come back to Cranbrook, and their return will kick Cranbrook forward into the future. And I can’t wait! Come back, and save us from ourselves!

For the most part, graduation ceremonies are held at the end of June (my own high school grad was held in September — the only school I’ve ever heard of that adhered to such a custom). And it’s an entirely appropriate season to do so. It’s fitting that graduation ceremonies are held around the time of the solstice, where the sun pauses overhead and looks down upon the doings here on earth, doings like graduation ceremonies.

There is even a tarot card for graduation — “The Sun” (number XIX in the Major Arcana).  It’s meaning is this: The Sun is an image of optimism and fulfillment, the Sun represents success, radiance and abundance. The Sun gives you strength and no matter where you go or what you do, its  positive and radiant energy will follow you. As for the summer solstice itself, it is a time of intensity, renewal and great potential.  And that is what we at the Townsman/Bulletin wish for all the graduates of School Districts 5 and 6 — from Golden Secondary, David Thompson Secondary, Selkirk Secondary, Elkford Secondary, Sparwood Secondary, Fernie Secondary and Mount Baker Secondary.

* * *

Speaking of customs, traditions, education and graduation, I have observed a very important custom in Cranbrook.

There comes a point in young teenagers’ lives when they must slide in behind the steering wheel of an automobile, put it into gear, and step on the accelerator for the first time, putting the rest of the world in peril until those skills are mastered. It makes this process so much easier to have a wide expanse of space, uncluttered with parked or speeding vehicles, or pedestrians with their heads in the clouds. So much less nerve-wracking than heading out onto Highway 3, all crowded with speeding semis and oblivious wildlife, or venturing into the tumultuous, turbulent streets of Kimberley.

When I was that age, I was learning to operate vehicles in farmers’ fields. Here in Cranbrook, it’s the parking lot of the Tamarack mall.

Once, driving by the Tamarack Centre with a friend from out of town, she looked out the window and said, “That’s where my dad taught me how to drive, more than 30 years ago.” Since these days I’ve been wondering how and where I will be offering up my own skills for instruction (God help us all), I was relieved to know there was a place at hand where this instruction and experience could take place.

It was further confirmed just the other day, when I was walking by the Tamarack Centre on a Sunday morning, and saw a vehicle pull up and the father and daughter trade places, with her sliding behind the wheel, putting the car in gear and stepping on the accelerator. I wish this young person decades ahead of happy, safe, defensive driving.

Barry Coulter is Editor of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman.

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