This year in Edmonton, the summer solstice occurred on June 21, at 3:54 p.m. The rain and cloud have been heavy for a few days, but it’s still been possible to enjoy the long evenings.
Depending how far north you live, the evenings at the end of June seem to go on forever. Where I am, the sun is currently setting after 10:00, but if the evening is clear, then that evening extends passed 11:00. It’s lovely for walking.
Don’t be fooled by your calendar this time of year. Many will tell you that June 21 marks the beginning of summer. Since parts of Alberta can get snow until almost the end of June, that often makes sense. But the summer solstice is midsummer’s day. Remember Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream? That’s the day we’re talking about.
Stone henge is a place where it’s believed people gathered on the summer and winter solstices for thousands of years. They still do. Check out these photos from The Guardian.However you choose to celebrate or spend your time this solstice weekend, take in the longer days. And to help you along, here’s a passage from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, describing the magic and mystery of a midsummer dawn.
“Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy but it was an awe that smote and held him and, without seeing, he knew it could only mean that some august Presence was very, very near. With difficulty he turned to look for his friend. and saw him at his side cowed, stricken, and trembling violently. And still there was utter silence in the populous bird haunted branches around them; and still the light grew and grew.
Perhaps he would never have dared to raise his eyes, but that, though the piping was now hushed, the call and the summons seemed still dominant and imperious. He might not refuse, were Death himself waiting to strike him instantly, once he had looked with mortal eye on things rightly kept hidden. Trembling he obeyed, and raised his humble head; and then, in that utter clearness of the imminent dawn, while Nature, flushed with fulness of incredible colour, seemed to hold her breath for the event, he looked in the very eyes of the Friend and Helper; saw the backward sweep of the curved horns, gleaming in the growing daylight; saw the stern, hooked nose between the kindly eyes that were looking down on them humourously, while the bearded mouth broke into a half smile at the corners; saw the rippling muscles on the arm that lay across the broad chest, the long supple hand still holding the pan pipes only just fallen away from the parted lips; saw the splendid curves of the shaggy limbs disposed in majestic ease on the sward; saw, last of all, nestling between his very hooves, sleeping soundly in entire peace and contentment, the little, round, podgy, childish form of the baby otter. All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.”
(Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”)