Solstice

These days in late June are the longest of the year. Indeed, they have felt…long. My husband took the older three kids to Arizona for the weekend for a joint family memorial service (people who had passed away over the past year, and now people can finally get together to honor them). The kids seemed to do fine with the 117 degree temperatures. Maybe there is something to that “dry heat” comment everyone makes. I stayed here with the 6-year-old and toddler. The toddler was not at his best. Up very early Friday after being up too late Friday night, because I’d agreed that the 6-year-old could go to an evening event with a 9 p.m. pick up. So he was throwing himself around, throwing food around. He got a decent nap, which was good, because then at night after going down at 7 p.m. he woke up at 10 p.m. and absolutely would not go down until 1 a.m. Since I had been up at 5:45 a.m. that morning with him, that last hour was particularly brutal.

But we all survived. I took the little guys in the pool twice over the weekend, and we drove to visit my brother in New Jersey. We have a few cicadas here, but they are much thicker there, making a 70-decibal oscillating sound. The 6-year-old amused himself for two-plus hours making piles of the cicada shells and observing the bugs themselves as they crawled around.

The four older kids are in three different camps this week, so there is a lot of driving going on. But I’m glad that they enjoy doing different things. When I dropped the 6-year-old off for his first day at a nature camp this morning, he basically bounded out of the car. The counselor suggested he say goodbye to me — but he was already racing off. A spirit of adventure!

About two years ago, I wrote a draft of a novel that centers around the summer and winter solstice, and a young man’s experiences of both days. He spent the summer solstice in Norway, where it is light except for a few hours in the dead of night. It was inspired, to some degree, by my husband and I spending some days around the summer solstice in Norway (more than once). I was remembering some of those journeys this weekend. On one trip, we went hiking on a mountain that had just opened for the summer season right around June 21st. We got stuck in a snowstorm on the top. I mean a driving blizzard of a snowstorm. I guess that saying about weather changing quickly in the mountains is true. In any case, we found some other people wandering around up there (with the snow obscuring the trail markings) and one of them had a compass and we all got down together.

I doubt there are any snowstorms coming here soon. The tiger lilies are starting to bloom, and the hydrangeas too. Now, on to more book writing/editing…

8 thoughts on “Solstice

  1. Having spent the first 22 summers of my life in Phoenix, I would say 117 is just HOT. The summer I was 12 the airport was closed for temperatures above 122 degrees. I try to confine my trips back there to winter and spring. That said, I have no qualms about shipping my kids off to “Camp Grammy” for a week in August and they seem unimpressed by the heat.

  2. Being up with a kid at 1 AM is almost always brutal. Thanks for keeping it real.

    And I always love when you say things like “But we all survived.” I’ve listened to your voice in podcasting format enough that when I read your posts, I literally play these sorts of lines “aloud” in my mind in your voice.

    You’re just so pragmatic. It was hard. We survived. Moving on. Love it…such a great dose of perspective.

  3. I remember hiking in New Mexico one summer when I was in high school. My mom and I kept saying our feet were hot, and decided to sit down by a tiny stream and soak our feet. Well, we say down and immediately jumped back up – the rocks were scorching! When we returned to the ranger station, we checked the thermometer; it read 117°F in the SHADE. No wonder our poor feet were hot!

    1. I forgot to say that we never felt impressively hot while we were hiking. The humidity was about 15%, so we were very warm, but not miserable like we are here in Indiana when it’s 85-90°F with a matching humidity of 85-90%. The dry heat thing is REAL.

  4. 117 sounds so crazy hot — fun fact, we actually RARELY hit triple digits here. Typical summer highs are 90-92 (lows are high 70s-low 80s). But our S Fl humidity is always very high. I kind of would like to compare the two forms of heat!

    1. @SHU it is HOT. Like opening an oven door HOT. I think the biggest reason people don’t realize it as much is because the temperature variation is huge! Unlike in steamy Florida, on a 117 degree day, the low might be 80 and it will be 117 for 5 minutes at 4 p.m. There is also a much bigger difference in temperature in the shade. However this past weekend my Mom’s SO went to play golf at 7:30 am and it was already 100 degrees.

  5. Ugh that toddler sleep is rough.

    I use the winter solstice to help me get through winter — each day after is longer until you get to June 20, which makes those long cold months easier to bear. Of course on June 20 it makes me a little sad because you know that each day after is shorter until Dec 20, but we still have more than 2 months of summer left, so I try to focus on that. I personally love being on the western edge of a time zone because that means that the sun doesn’t go down until after 9 every day, and it isn’t truly dark until 10pm.

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