Sunday

That disappointing Summer Solstice

On June 21st – which marks the beginning of summer here in the northern hemisphere – we experience what will be a string of the “longest days” of the year. In fact, looking in my almanac, I see that June 19 – 21 are each of the same length of day, making them the longest days of the year (15hrs 17min from sunrise to sunset).

Lady String and I always make it a point to be outdoors on Summer Solstice evening and celebrate the longest day together. We try to have dinner at an outdoor restaurant, weather permitting (not all that many choices in the southern Boston region, actually, since it is a very short season), and then just take in the evening until the glow in the horizon gives way finally to the night. We were able to enjoy just such a night last week, with splendid, clear skies and short-sleeve warm temperatures.

The sun sets at its latest, here in the Boston area, between June 24 – 29, setting at 8:25pm. Civil twilight is probably around 9:20pm or so, and it is dark well before 10pm.

And that, to me, is such a bummer, because on June 30th, the sun will start setting earlier, beginning at 8:24pm and working it’s way methodically back to it’s earliest setting point, 4:12pm, from December 4 through 13. How can it be that the summer is just beginning and the days are already getting shorter? Shouldn’t we peak in the middle of summer, around August 1st? What was God thinking? That’s just not right.

And it just seems like even at its longest, the sun just sets way too early around these parts. Now, in Hammerfest Norway -- the land of the midnight sun -- the sun simply does not set at this time of year, or when it does, it only dips below the horizon for a few minutes before rising again. I’m not sure how fun that would be to live in (it must throw your sleep patterns off like crazy) but it would be a lot of fun to experience, and I hope to do so someday.

But here in eastern US, 8:25pm just does not seem like a late night. My brother lived in Grand Rapids, MI, which is on the western edge of this time zone, and he said that the sun didn’t set there until around 9:30pm at this time of year, and with the twilight, you could still be finishing up your golf game at 10pm. Now that seems to me to be a little more like it.

And two years ago I was on a beach in Den Haag, The Netherlands on June 21st, watching the sun set at just after 10pm. At 11:00pm we were still playing volleyball on the beach and having no problems with seeing clearly. By 11:20pm we finally stopped playing and decided to go have some beers. The only problem was that this Eastern-Time-Zone-dependent body somehow got fooled into thinking that the night was young as we headed to the pub for what turned out to be three rounds of Heinekens. My 6am wake-up call was not gentle the next morning. But after experiencing a lengthy, sunlit evening like that, I am even more aware of just how shortchanged we are getting in the Boston area as far as length of sunlit summer evenings go.

Lady String and I have vowed that if we move in the future, we will go someplace where the climate is kinder than it can be in New England, and will be on the western edge of a time zone, so that the summer nights can be brighter. We will also want to be near the ocean, so getting all three to line up will take a bit.

In the meantime, we will enjoy what we have here in New England, and will savor what we can of the summer days ahead … even though we have tasted longer evenings and know how sweet they really can be. But we are on the hunt.


33 comments:

Jim C said...

I completly agree! I get a bit bummmed knowing we are on the first steps toward winter...that's why I love the spring....the days get longer. It's like the day after Xmas...nothing to look forward to until what... Memorial Day?

Slacker Mom said...

I don't feel the same way. June is just full of the beginning of summer still. We have all of July!!

And the brightness late is all relative, it FEELS like the sun is setting a heck of a lot later, so it just feels greatto me.

And those places with the sun up later, don't they pay a steeper price in the winter?

On teh other hand, I love the tradition you and your Lady have, might be something I steal in the future. Going out and enjoying the extra light with Navy Boy sounds wonderful.

Thanks for the idea. :)

OnMyWatch said...

that really sounds nice! from where I sit, I'm ready for the fall already. It's hot as hell down here. but as far as the land of the midnight sun goes - might I suggest blackout curtains? :)

JunieRose2005 said...

I love that last sunset picture!!!

Where was it taken?

JunieRose

StringMan said...

Hi Jim ... I like your concept of Spring ... only wish we had one every year up here. Sometimes we go right from winter to summer.

Slacker Mom, I admire your optimism. I too relish the warm days ahead. Just can't get over the march towards darkness however. Doesn't seem fair. The 'out for the night' on summer solstice is a highly recommended activity. It's special.

OnMyWatch, I'll bet blackout curtains are exceptionally popular near the top and the bottom of our world during the summers.

JuniRose, I believe that sunset is from Oahu. I took it off the web. I liked it, too.

b said...

I too love the tradition the two of you have created.

I had the same thought the other night. How is it possible that just as school is letting out, and summer is beginning, that the days are now getting shorter?

But after days and days of no sun at all, I'd be happy to have it for even a few short hours each day!

Peter said...

Hey String, do you invest in lottery tickets? a really win-win situation would be summer in the Northern Hemisphere and then in the Southern, might take a bit of juggling to get the mix just right, but the potential is there.
OK now how many lottery tickets does it take to ensure a win?????

BTW how do you exclude anonymous comments from your site?

StringMan said...

Hi B ... I'm with you on the sun. It's been a bit wet around here, eh?

Peter, that is brilliant. Now I just have to win that lottery. As for not allowing anonymous comments, it was an option under the "comments" tab in Blogger (only registered users can comment). It's worked well so far, as has not requiring the verification. Only a few strays now and again, easily deleted.

Hale McKay said...

All well and good, String. Now if it only it would quit $%@*ing so we can enjoy and see a few more sunsets!

Hale McKay said...

$%@*ing raining - that is.

Spider Walk said...

I agree. I love summer, but the nights get too short, too fast.

I would still rather live in your neck of the woods, Stringman. At least you have beautiful scenery there...unlike me.

Violet said...

Every year, I look forward to the summer solstice and think that I should somehow "make the most" of the longest day of the year. For the week leading up to June 21, I try to come up with creative ways to spend the day. It never works out that way. I work at a pool during the summer and this year, I was there until well after sunset. As a matter of fact, I forgot that it was the summer solstice until after 8 p.m. *Sigh*

Next year, though, I'm totally making the most of it!

trinamick said...

It starts getting dark a little after 10:00 here. I just dread the time when it starts getting dark earlier. Before long, it's dark before I ever get off work. Very depressing. I need light!

beadinggalinMS said...

I luv long summer days sitting outside till it is dark.
Nice tradtion you and Lady String have :)

Karlos said...

The summer solstice is special in Texas. I think our first day of summer was in March. We had 100 degree (seemingly endless) days in since March or April….It’s not even July yet! Sit outside and enjoy it where you can. It sucks here. Way too hot for me! The Warden loves the heat though…She’s outside studying right now. Yuck!

Zambo said...

Hey Stringman.

Sorry you were bummed out by the daylight "shortchanging"...

I was reminded of the film "Insomnia" (the remake of the Norwegian original, starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank) as I read your latest entry...I don't know if you've seen it, but it made me wonder if getting too much daylight might drive a fella mad...And I also loved the show "Northern Exposure" (the first few seasons anyway) and when folks who weren't accustomed to living in Alaska experienced the light and dark seasons, they could go a little mental too...

One of these days I might share the story of the longest day of my life...but it had nothing to do with the sun setting...

Take care out there, Stringman!

Your Pal,

Zambo.

junebee said...

Oh, all this sunlight is well and good if you don't have small children that need to sleep at 7 PM. I keep hearing when the kids are older I'll appreciate all those lo-o-o-ng days when the kids can tire themselves out at the pool.

So, how do you and Lady String mark winter solstice? (Just wondering!) and what about the equinoxes? Or is that equinoxii?

Teresa said...

What a great tradition and I love the photos. Since I live on the very western end of the eastern time zone, I get daylight for a whole 45 minutes longer than you. Did you know that? Means it doesn't get dark until after 10! I hate it.

Lone Pony said...

sigh...how romantic. Love the sunset pic!

StringMan said...

Hi Mike … been some wet days up this way, eh?

Spider, do live in a bunker or what? Why no scenery?

Hello again Violet … being at a pool on Soltice evening is not a bad place to be, if you ask me. It’s good to be outdoors anywhere on that night.

Hey Trina – I think that’s the worst day: when you notice that it is getting dark by the time you leave work. It’s especially bad when daylight savings ends, and you have this abrupt change from daylight to dark at a given hour.

Bead, down your way your season is a bit longer, at least as far as sitting outside. Ours is shortened up here, so we REALLY need to take advantage of what little time we have. Hey, we could sit out together and do a Corona or two, don’t you think?

Good luck with that heat, Carlos. I guess if you can’t take the heat, get out of … the Lone Star state :)

Hey Zambo … I’ve put Insomnia in my Netflix queue. I’ve been wanting to see it. It’ll be a good “daylight savings” movie. I’ll be checking your blog for some possible details on your longest day.

Greetings Junebee: I’d forgotten about the little tikes … yeah, the extended daylight doesn’t help the sleep situation. LadyString and I just observe the Summer Solstice. Winter Solstice gets overshadowed by Christmas, I think. But it's a worthy marker: the days start getting longer after Dec 21st.

Teresa … not a big fan of the extended daylight? I guess it’s easier to think it would be cool when (in my case) you don’t experience the good or bad of it. Like Junebee said about little kids, or if you tend to go to be between 9pm and 10pm, it can be a distraction.


Hi LP … I will say that I do enjoy the romance of the evening … it's a special night to share.

beadinggalinMS said...

Sounds good to me :)

Spider Walk said...

Nope. No bunker here. Just rows and rows of CORN!!

poody said...

I love the sunset photo. I think the days get shorter because here where I live at the back door of hell it is so hot that the sun being up so long is just overkill if you know what I mean. Come stay by me for one summer and you will be running back to be in the cool summer nights of New England. LUCKY* (in my best Napoleon Dynamite voice)

Spider Walk said...

Hey String,
I moved blogs. Please click on my picture to visit my new space.
Thanks!

StringMan said...

Hi Poody ... I understand. A few other friends on my blogroll are fellow Texans and they say the same. Hot as a muthaf***er.

Spider, the new blog is way cool!

Marti said...

Here in Mazoorah, it doesn't get really dark until 9:30 to 9:45 PM. We're out in the country though with no streetlights, so once it gets dark, it's REALLY dark! LOL

Well-written piece, I enjoyed reading it.

FredCQ said...

Sounds like a nice way to spend the night.

Summer here in philly has been non-existant. It's been raining for almost a week straight. Today is the first sunny day in a long time.

cherish said...

This is a great post Stringman! I love that you spend that time with your wife! Personally I like when the sun sets early. It is easier to get the kids in at a decent time. HEHE.. Sorry guys it is dark! Plus I love the star filled skies of the evening and early morning. Smiles...

Sounds like no matter where you live with Lady String it is heaven on earth!

Lingo Slinger said...

the summer patio scene is where it's at... whether it's at a swank bar with some stellar patio entertainment, or just at home with some friends.

love that bottom photograph btw... very nice!

i think one day i'd like to live in hawaii... just sit on the beach all day pumping out best selling novels (ahhh to dream).

StringMan said...

Hi Marti ... ah, the country life in "Mazoorah"! Hope the summer goes well!

Hey Fred ... New England hasn't seen much of a spring this year, either.

The stars in the sky make the evening worth it, for sure, Cherish.

Living outdoors year 'round and cranking out novels in Hawaii sounds like a most excellent plan, Lingo. Change my version to cranking out tunes and we'll both be in nirvana ...

Lone Pony said...

Noooooooooo....don't leave me alone without your witty posts to pick me up!!! Ok, so genius needs a break; have a nice one. HUGS!

Liz said...

Hope you guys had a nice day. The pictures are great.

Sorry to hear you are going to be MIA for awhile. Just don't disappear too long :D

cherish said...

Will enjoy reading your archives but will miss you immensely :(:( Pouts...

You tricky tricky white boy putting posts out there for us to find.

Have a great summer!!