Summer Solstice

It hit last night in my part of the world at 7:59 p.m. as I sat in a bar, knitting.

After months of lengthening days, a process that began last year before Christmas, day-length dwindles again for the first time since the winter solstice. It’s funny that just as summer officially begins the days get shorter. This makes me think of Joesph Campbell talking about the yin-yang symbol, how each colored half of the shape contains the color of the other half.

Even on the first full day of summer, the days are shortening, the sun is slipping lower down the sky and there’s a little bit of the coming winter with us, already.

I also note that while yesterday was the first day of summer, that day is commonly called “Midsummer” in the Western world. According to Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy that’s because some parts of Europe think of summer as starting in May, ending in July and peaking in June. Which it kind of does because there’s the calendrical summer and then there’s summer as expressed in temperature, weather, nature and agriculture — and that latter summer really is half over.

In the American South June can be beastly hot, with fireflies and summer lightnings. It might be spring until the 21st or so, but as the cicadas buzz and the sun beats down and the wind blows the distant noise of the kids in the nearby public pool my way… Sure feels like summertime.

And by August, a summer month, plants are fruiting as the harvest season approaches. My favored sign of fall I note every year, spiderwebs in the yard, span branches and frost the front lawn by the first week of the month. Nothing is ever purely itself alone, and everything is always changing into something else.

But today’s the first full day of summer, clear and hot with a chance of (yes yes please) a sexy summer thunderstorm, and I’ve got plans. I’m meeting Rowan in the park for a summer walk and wearing river shoes so I can roll up my pantlegs and put my feet and legs in the French Broad. Summer! I hope we get a big bad thunderboomer tonight that soaks the earth with rain.

The famous French Broad river float I do every year is next month. School is out for two luxurious more MONTHS.

Welcome summer. I really love you. And happy first day of the new season to everyone.

Summer afternoon – Summer afternoon… the two most beautiful words in the English language.

– Henry James

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