Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer is OFFICIALLY Here--Sorry, Ava

If you weren't already aware, yesterday was the summer solstice here in the northern hemisphere. (So yes, Ava, that means it is officially summer and no longer spring.) That means that yesterday was the longest day of the year--the day when the sun is out the longest. From today on until the winter solstice, the days will progressively get a little shorter and a little darker...unless, of course, you're in the southern hemisphere like our own Heather, who just experienced the winter solstice.

Just how long yesterday was (and therefore just how much sun you got) depends largely on how far north you live.

In Texas, it has been summer for months. Searing heat. Scorching sun. All that stuff that most people love but I hate with every fiber of my being. Where I live, the sun rose at about 6:20 in the morning and didn't set until somewhere in the range of 8:40 in the evening. That's over fourteen hours of sun...sun that burns and leaves ugly blisters and causes skin cancer.

Augh! Too much.

(Sorry. I digress. Can you tell I'm not a fan of summer in Texas?)

I lived in Juneau, Alaska once, for about a year. In case your geography skills aren't all that great, Alaska is significantly farther north than Texas. That means that on the summer solstice, they get a LOT more sun than we do in Texas.

I don't recall the precise times for sunrise and sunset for the summer solstice during the year that I lived there, but I do recall that the sun was out until somewhere in the range of 11:00 or 11:30 pm, and then it rose again at around 2:00 am. Yep--over twenty-one hours of sunshine. TWENTY-ONE! Heck, even when it was "dark," it wasn't really dark. It was more like twilight, where you could see the brightness of the sun off over the mountains in the distance.

Despite the fact that there was considerably more sunshine in the summer in Alaska than there is in Texas, I didn't mind it in the least. I loved it, actually. It was bright and cheery and energizing. It made me feel like I could keep going for hours on end, and in fact I often lost track of how late it was. The sun was still out. Why were all the stores closing?

The Alaskan sun wasn't accompanied by the oppressive heat and humidity we have in Texas--the sort that saps all of your energy and leaves you feeling like you got run over by a dump truck a few times, and all the while you're covered in an ever-present vat of sweat so disgusting that you feel like your hair will NEVER dry again.

Instead, there was only one day that summer in Alaska that I remember it getting up into the 80s. That was a day that the locals told me it was "balmy." I tried to discreetly hide my laughter at such a statement, because for Alaskans, 80 probably is balmy. If it's only 80 in Texas on a summer day, we designate it a holiday, take the day off of everything but the lake or pool, and rejoice that our air conditioners won't have to keep working at an insane pace until 3 am in order to get it down to a reasonable temperature for sleeping. If we're lucky and it lasts for a few days, our electric bill might not make us want to gouge out our eyes that month. We might just want to cry for a few hours while we sell plasma to pay the bill.

The sun, in Alaska, was not my enemy. Instead, for so many people who live in areas so far north where they get such a delightful amount of sun in the summer, it is the winter solstice that is to be loathed. The opposite takes place in the winter, where the sun doesn't rise until lunchtime and is already setting again a couple of hours later, and it is cold and dark and depressing. Seasonal depression is the expectation. It's the norm. If you don't suffer from it, you should count yourself as one of the lucky ones. (I did have seasonal depression from the darkness, but I loved the cold. Too bad they go hand-in-hand.)

So, begrudgingly, I can understand the feelings of those people who live up in farther northern climes, who delight in the impending return of summer each year. It may take me a few moments to remind myself that I, too, once upon a time took great pleasure in the extended hours of daylight and the energy it provided. Okay, I'll admit it. Sometimes it takes a whack over the head, because I'm so caught up in how gross and tired and miserable the Texas heat makes me to remember that it isn't so horrid in the summer everywhere.

Because of that, if I should rain on your celebration that summer is upon us by grumbling about how long it will be until winter will return, feel free to give me a good, solid whack. (Just not too hard. That'll only make me grumble more.)

Do you live in an area where you can't wait for summer to finally arrive? Do you delight in the sunshine? Or are you more like me, where you curse it with every breath you take?

**Originally published at Lady Scribes**

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