Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Solstice

Despite the fact that I complained a great deal about this past winter's snowy weather, the dominant feature of living this far north is not the cycles of heat and cold, or alternating aridity and monsoon moisture, but rather changes in the length of daylight. In Spokane today sunrise was at 4:52 PDT, and sunset, barring some cataclysm brought on by Kim Jong-il, will be at 8:51 this evening. During this solstice period we topped out with about 16 hours of daylight. Of course, in December we cope with a mere 8 hours and 25 minutes of daylight, and not very strong light at that.

For me, the most difficult aspect of our short winter days is getting up in the morning. Beginning the day in the cold and dark makes ordinary events seem ominous. Conversely, it is evening and bedtime that are challenging in the summer. We often get busy working or playing outside, and forget to eat supper. Our minds, responding to the lavish, late day sunshine, are fooled into thinking it to be 4 or 5 o'clock when it is already 8. And going to bed when there's still a glimmer of light in the west? It just doesn't feel right.

Remembering winter's dark chill, and thus desiring to take full advantage of the light afforded to us in these days, we pack as much activity into our hours as we possibly can. Yesterday that meant starting up the lawn mower after 8 p.m., in part in deference to the weather forecast, and in part because it was still light out, and we wanted to take advantage of that fact.

In these next days I hope to soak up enough light and warmth to see me through another long, northern winter. I am writing this in part so I can come back to this post in December and January and remind myself that summer is not a figment of my imagination.

This continuing cycle reminds us that we shouldn't take our good fortune for granted, but accept and use life's blessings with deep gratitude. And 6 months from now, once more in the grip of winter, we can recall these days and be filled with hope, for June will come again.

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