Today's the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice. I think I'm making blogging history, liveblogging it from the 51st parallel.
I've been looking forward to this day like I used to look forward to Christmas, only instead of gaily wrapped packages I'm excited about a few extra minutes of daylight to play with. Last night when I went to bed at 10:30 the sky was still a flaxen color. This morning when I got up at 4:30, the sky was already light enough to play chess outdoors.
4:44 a.m. Sunrise on the longest day of the year. I can't see it well from here; we live in a hollow. But the cows know something's up. They peer at me, wondering if I know it's the crack of dawn, but soon decide me and my Nikon are okay.
5:45 a.m. I've decided to learn how to use my Nikon properly. I dig out the user manual, it's in Spanish. Find the English one, and read enough to learn I've got a "sunset" mode as well as a "dusk/dawn" mode. If only I'd known.
5:59 a.m. I should explain how I knew when the sun would rise, exactly where I am. I went here and typed in my coordinates (my nephew was here last week with his GPS) which told me sunrise at 4:44, sunset at 21:24. Civil twilight begins at 3:57 and ends at 22:12. I think that means that civilized people aren't out any earlier or later than that.
6:10 a.m. I think this photo, taken around 5:30, is better.
7:33 a.m. If I were a typical summer solstice fanatic, I'd be at Stonehenge right now. But wacky religions, even wacky religions from the Bronze Age, don't interest me nearly as much as my own back yard. Besides, I've been seeing signs on the M25 for a week now, warning of delays on the A303 at Stonehenge. I thought it was for road works, but no, it's because of the solstice worshippers. And to complicate matters further, English Heritage, who run the monument, are on strike.
Here's what a summer solstice actually is:
At the time of this solstice, the earth is in that point of its orbit at which the hemisphere in question is most tilted towards the sun, causing the sun to appear at its farthest above the celestial equator when viewed from earth.
Wonder if they knew that in the Bronze Age?
11:10 a.m. Took a walk in the woods, made lots of photos. Felt bad for others who did not have sun today. Came up with the following list:
Things to do today with all the extra daylight:
•Read the Nikon instruction manual.
•After first mastering Spanish.
•Put away the flannel sheets
•Where I can get them out again on the Winter Solstice.
•Learn something that would be useful in a novel.
•And then type the words "Chapter One" and wait for inspiration.
•Take a new path through the woods.
•But first discuss options with dog.
•Climb a tree.
•Or maybe not.
•Make iced tea.
•After first making ice.
•Plant some herbs, parsley and dill.
•After first weeding the garden.
•Finish reading Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum.
•Have dictionary handy.
•Think of more things to do today with all the extra daylight.
12:00 p.m.: I changed the date on this post since I started it before midnight California time. For some reason all my dates and times are in Pacific Time, probably because California is located in the center of the known universe.
14:19 (that's 2:19 p.m. for you colonists): Stinging nettle. Don't mess with it.
14:21: Let's just leave it in the garden, shall we? Besides, this will make up for when I accidently weeded out the hollyhocks.
15:35: God, it it only 3:30?
17:41/5:41 p.m.: Time for a solstice check: Here's the earth (that's me, there, near that greenish spot). Here are scenes from Stonehenge earlier today. Clouds are starting to come in, but that's a good thing. Grass is starting to turn brown, but heh, I've been told there's no such thing as global warming, so that can't be it. Meanwhile I've taken some new pics. Here's that perfect rose Dorothy Parker was talking about (my camera even has a special button just for roses!):
18:22/6:22 p.m. Why, look! It's mojito time!
19:44/7:44: I guess some might wonder why this day is so special here on the 51.5 parallel. To understand that, you have to have lived through a winter here. I remember counting the days to the winter solstice, longing to have a few more minutes of daylight. By 3 every afternoon the shadows would lengthen, and darkness would descend shortly after 4 p.m. But after the solstice, the days gradually began to lengthen.
It's been cool, watching to see how late the sun stays out to play. The other night in Stratford, we left the theatre at 10:30 and the sky was still streaked with blue. The birds wake us in the wee hours of the morning, but I don't blame them. I want to chirp every morning too.
Grass grows almost before your eyes. Weeds do too. But so do flowers.
No wonder the pagans marked the day with religious ritual.
I'm off to enjoy what's left.
21:57 (non-EU, 9:57) The sun has gone on its merry way. We played a rousing game of badminton until 9—Serena came over, said the competition was bollocks at Wimbledon this year. At sunset, 9:24, I decided to prune the dogrose, but it got too dark to distinguish my finger from a bud.
Gosh, it's been a long day.
Tomorrow will be shorter, they say, by about a minute. But a month from now the daylight will last 41 fewer minutes. And by the Winter Solstice, the sun will rise at 8:04 and set at 3:58.
I'd better start looking for a Happy Lite tomorrow.
Those of you on the other side, enjoy what's left of your day.