Sometimes the activity of the waxing year come so thick and fast that by Midsummer you can feel a bit ramshackle. Part of it is due to the aging process. But also, I am the sort of person who needs a good chunk of quiet time to process the emotions around events. So what happens? I get a little bit sick, a virus, just sick enough to take me out of the fray to ponder the imponderables, to think around the large and small circumstances of life, and to put them into perspective.

I felt a bit like this ramshackle old glasshouse seen on an open garden day at Colebrooke House, near Enniskillen in Fermanagh. When spirits and physical energy run low, sometimes it is only a garden and flowers that can be this Bee's balm. That was about the last day we had overcast, cool weather in June. We have experienced surreally hot and dry weather for Ireland in June. Seeing that I am not genetically engineered to withstand more than a quarter of any hour's strong sunshine, I have been indoors. Without pollution our sun is particularly searing. A Factor 30 sunscreen could not protect me for a half hour out on the beach last Friday. Yes, I am that much of a shade plant!

So I have retreated into the shade of a curtained room for the time being. There is growth happening, just like there is in that skeletal glasshouse. But maintenance is required. Words will come, but first there is staring out the window time, clearing out cupboards time, taking it slow time, knitting in the cool of the short nights.

How do you retreat?

I have remade my altar. I have communed with my ancestors. I have donated to charity. I have let the house go to hell in a hand basket. I have eaten icecream and talked with my beloved. I have listened to my body. I have listened to what my heart can barely articulate. I am letting things end. I am getting ready for the beginning.

I have also let go of my internal Mrs. Should, that bossy head prefect, who would normally have me making elderflower cordial and drying rose petals and doing normal summertime hedge witchy things. But Mrs. Should has been sent on holiday. Watering the container plants in the cool of the morning is about the height of it for the time being.

Maybe now is time for you to vacate some of your shoulds and musts for a little midsummer retreat time.