Summer solstice is the beginning of the end.  The end of heat, the end of light, the end of summer.  Yeah, I know it’s the middle of “astronomical summer,” and near the beginning of “meteorological summer.”  Around here the average high

Summer Solstice, through Sweet Gum leaves

temperature for the date reaches its apex on a rather smooth sine curve just about five weeks after the equinox, on July 27.  So we still have plenty of heat and humidity and code orange air to go.  In fact, all that “mugginess” is just starting to gather steam (no pun intended).

But you don have to suffer from the syndrome lamely named “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (Get it?  The acronym SAD? How clever!) to lament the waning of daylight hours.  Seems like the fireflies just started up around here (actually it was three weeks ago, around June 1).  They’ve scarcely had time to do their dating and mating.  One of my favorite Japanese Haiku is Taigi’s:

“Look, look, fireflies!”
I would say,
But I am alone.

Nobody should be alone on these long, warm, voluptuous summer evenings, so if we make it through the day’s heat that elongated, drowsy sunset can make it all worthwhile for us as well as the lightning bugs.  And that’s all fine for a while.  But after the equinox the dark is less pleasing.  We once asked our B&B hostess in Inverness, Scotland, how she handled it when he kids went to school in the dark at 8 am and came home in the dark at 4 pm.  She said the worst time only lasted six weeks, and  Christmas was right in the middle of that, with its activities and social “brightness.”  Basically, that’s what keeps us all going, that ancient Germanic festival that announces that in spite of the ice and darkness the days are getting longer again, and sooner or later it must get warm.

Winter Solstice sun, icy street, 2010.

So if this solstice promises that heat, romance, and then cold darkness lie ahead, we can already know with confidence that the antithetical promises will be made six months hence.  How strange that we alternatively yearn for each set of promises.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010.

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