Where I live, at the 46th Parallel in Michigan, the sun rose this morning at 5:44. It will set at 9:29 tonight. We will have close to 16 hours of daylight today. It’s the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and up here, where we endure long dark winters, this is a day to celebrate.
Tomorrow our day will shorten by 12 seconds, which means little by little the daylight hours will dwindle, until December 21, when we’ll be able to see clearly without artificial aids for only about eight hours. The sun won’t rise until 8:09 AM on the day of the Winter Solstice and will be setting at 4:55 PM. So up here the longest day of the year is a big deal.
My Finnish family calls this day “Juhannus“, St. John’s Day. It’s the traditional day for huge bonfires (Kokko) and, for some, long hours of drinking. I remember many Juhannus celebrations on the pebbly shores of Lake Superior in the Copper Country, where enormous driftwood bonfires lined the beach, looking for all the world to us children like dazzling, fiery jewels.
The grown-ups sang songs, cooked sausages, and partied far into the night. After a couple of hours the children (that would be us) were sent back to the cabins so that they could go on celebrating the Solstice more in keeping with the pagans who had originated the event in the first place.
So as of today, it’s summer here in Pure Michigan, the Midwest’s most beautiful state. (Who sez? I do. I just did. Also, Tim Allen. He does the voice-over for the sublime Pure Michigan ads.) What some laughingly called Spring seemed to go on forever this year, so any hint of summer is sending us into paroxysms of joy.
This was us all through the month of May and right up to the first day of summer (today): It’s 70 degrees! We can wear short sleeves! Oh, wait. . . No. Never mind. It’s gone now.
Today up here in the northern latitudes we welcomed summer with jackets on. Some had umbrellas. The sun didn’t shine all day. Tonight, if the skies were clear, we would be welcoming summer by watching a super moon rise. We would do that if we could. But we can’t because the clouds won’t clear.
But it’s been a long day. A long, long day. There are still hours to go, and I plan on enjoying every one of them. Because, tomorrow. . .who knows?