This post is dedicated to my mom, Rosanne, who is celebrating her 74th birthday today. Her kindness is so immense, she had to be born on the longest day of the year to contain it all. Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you.
Today at exactly 1:16 p.m. Eastern time, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac online, we will officially begin summer with the coming of the solstice. The word means "sun stops," because the sun appears to stand still at the top of the sky. Did you know that the Pagans called the midsummer moon the "Honey Moon" for the mead made from fermented honey that was served at wedding ceremonies performed on this night? They also celebrated by having couples leap over bonfires, believing their crops would grow as high as the couples could jump. On the solstice we get to enjoy the longest day of the year (and the shortest night), and then we start the long, slow descent back toward winter.
But, let’s just stay with summer for a moment. Because here in Wisconsin, that’s pretty much all we get. A moment. Summer takes an eternity to get here, and it doesn’t stay very long once it has arrived. For example, yesterday it was foggy and rainy and the temperatures were in the 50s. Not winter, exactly, but not what I call summer, either. And today looks like it will be no better. In fact, it is already raining and severe thunderstorms are predicted for later in the day.
For inquiring minds, here is what the world looks like from my dining room window on a foggy day like yesterday was and today will be, if we trust weather.com. Please note the dense summer greenery that obscures my view of Lake Michigan.
When summer does finally come to Wisconsin, it carries in its cornucopia some of the loveliest days you will ever see. We get green fields sprouting from expanses of red-brown dirt that make you want to take off all your clothes and roll around in it. We get corn. Lots of corn. We get the Great Lake, Michigan, and her many shades of blue, depending on the angle of the sun and the placement of the clouds. For example, here is the lake on a cloudless day last August. My friend Diane took this picture about 100 steps from my front door. She was visiting from Los Angeles, and she was very impressed by the great beauty she found here going unused by throngs of people like you might find on either coast. Wisconsin is nifty that way. Not too densely populated. If you enjoy solitude, we got it.
In summer, we've also got lilacs, fireflies, peaches, and brat fries. Note for all you non-Wisconsinites out there: a “brat fry” is an event at which people grill brats—German sausages, not small, whiny children—drink lots of good beer, and shoot the breeze with friends and family around a backyard fire pit. Later, if there are kids present, you might make s’mores. But that is optional. You could also do shots of tequila, if you felt so inclined. Hey, it's summer.
However you celebrate it, this, the longest day and shortest night of the year, make it fun, and be safe. And mom, please, no jumping over bonfires. Unless you are wearing your flame retardant party dress.
Deep snow in winter, tall grain in summer.–Estonian proverb