Happy Summer Solstice!

Photo credit: Salix alba at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

By Debbie Burke

@burke_writer

Welcome to summer and the longest day of the year…at least in the Northern Hemisphere.

To readers in the Southern Hemisphere, sorry, this is your shortest day but, from now on, the days will grow longer, honest.

To folks who live in the far north, summer solstice is especially appreciated after long, dark winter days. Today, at my Montana home, latitude 48 north, the sun rises at 5:37 a.m. and sets at 9:41 p.m. But dawn can be seen coming for almost an hour before then and twilight lingers until around 11 p.m.

At latitude 64.8 north, Fairbanks, Alaska enjoys almost 24 hours of sun today. Here’s time-lapse video:

 

For TKZ’s crime dogs who are also star-gazers, five planets—Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn—are currently lined up across the sky like train cars with the moon as the caboose. According to Space.com, the last time this type of alignment occurred was March 5, 1864.

The Farmer’s Almanac offers these tidbits from history and how different cultures celebrated summer solstice.

  • In Ancient Egypt, the summer solstice coincided with the rising of the Nile River. As it was crucial to predict this annual flooding, the Egyptian New Year began at this important solstice.

  • In centuries past, the Irish would cut hazel branches on solstice eve to be used in searching for gold, water, and precious jewels.

  • Many European cultures hold what are known as Midsummer celebrations at the solstice, which include gatherings at Stonehenge and the lighting of bonfires on hilltops.

Here’s a fun quiz about the summer solstice, also from the Farmers Almanac. Feel free to share your score in the comment section.

In the early 1960s, archeoastronomer Gerald Hawkins was the first to theorize that Stonehenge (built somewhere between 2950 – 1600 B.C.) was a giant astronomical calendar that tracked movements of the sun and moon. According to Wikipedia:

He fed the positions of standing stones and other features at Stonehenge into an early IBM 7090 computer and used the mainframe to model sun and moon movements. In his 1965 book, Stonehenge Decoded, Hawkins argued that the various features at the monument were arranged in such a way as to predict a variety of astronomical events.

From the center, the observer can see the summer solstice sun rising and setting in exact alignment between the monolithic stones.

Photo credit: By simonwakefield – https://www.flickr.com/photos/simonwakefield/3149066878/ (cache of original license), CC BY 2.0,

While rabbit-holing, I ran across a site called Spiritual Gangster, which sounded appropriate for crime writers and readers. Here’s an excerpt about setting summer intentions:

The Summer solstice is an energetically charged day and an important one to set intentions. Direct your intentions on the themes of this phase, which are patience, nourishment and trust. Create powerful “I am” statements that reflect these qualities and the development of them. Include “reception” statements that open you up to receiving the energies available on this day. Examples are; “I am open to receiving nourishment and growth” or “I am able to receive the energy needed to develop trust in my life.” Set your intentions and continually remind yourself of them all summer long. 

The longest day of the year is a good opportunity to review New Year’s resolutions you may have made in January and assess how well you’ve achieved them (or not!).

Remember that solemn vow to write XXX words or pages each day?

Or submit to XX agents?

Or organize your writing space?

Or finish that #%&$ manuscript languishing on your hard drive?

Or send your First Page to TKZ for critique? Here, I’ll make it easy for you with this link. We’re waiting—don’t make us come and get it! 

Who cares if you didn’t check off resolutions in the first half of 2022? You still have six months to nail goals you want to accomplish.

June 21 is the longest day of the year. Grab your hazel branch, set a bonfire, and dance like a Druid. Make the most of that additional daylight and score some extra words.

Happy Summer!

~~~

TKZers: Do you take stock of your writing/reading goals at the year’s midpoint? How are you doing?

Do you celebrate the first day of summer? Favorite activities and traditions?

 

This entry was posted in #writers, #writerslife, new year resolutions, Writing by Debbie Burke. Bookmark the permalink.

About Debbie Burke

Debbie writes Tawny Lindholm Thrillers with Passion. The first book in the series, Instrument of the Devil, won the Kindle Scout contest and the Zebulon Award. Additional books in the series are Stalking Midas, Eyes in the Sky, Dead Man's Bluff, Crowded Hearts, Flight to Forever, and Until Proven Guilty. Debbie's articles have won journalism awards in international publications. She is a founding member of Authors of the Flathead and helps to plan the annual Flathead River Writers Conference in Kalispell, Montana. Her greatest joy is mentoring young writers. http://www.debbieburkewriter.com

36 thoughts on “Happy Summer Solstice!

  1. Good morning, Debbie. Thank you for this. The summer solstice would have gotten past me. I would love to be able to take the extra daylight, bottle it, cork it, and open it this coming December on a cold, bleak, and dark morning. I’ll work on that today.

    For now, I’ll haul myself up early tomorrow and catch that planetary alignment. Maybe a zeta beam will hit me and transport me to the planet Rann. Or not. Comic fanboys out there will get the reference.

    Have a great week, Debbie, and thanks again!

    • Joe, when you perfect the technique of sunshine bottling, please pass the secret on to me.

      Here in Montana this a.m., it’s rainy and chilly. Doesn’t feel like the first day of summer but more like Groundhog Day. I can’t see my shadow and want to crawl back under the covers.

      Have a good day!

  2. I remember the year we were in Alaska on the solstice where they played a baseball game at midnight without lights. (We didn’t attend.)
    Today, sunrise where I live is around 5:30 and sunset around 8:30 (Yes, I could have looked it up, but I’m not ready for such a challenge.)
    As far as celebrating goes — I rarely know when it’s a weekend. If my calendar doesn’t tell me, one day is pretty much the same as the last and the next.

    • Terry, I know what you mean about losing track of days and weekends. If I hadn’t realized a post was due on June 21, solstice might have sailed right past me.

      That’s cuz we’re too busy toiling away inside our fictional worlds, right?

  3. My earliest memories “of” Stonehenge are from the planetarium at the Museum of Science and Natural History in Miami – a frequent field-trip destination when I was in elementary school in Coral Gables… this was just after the Gerald Hawkins work you described above – and that I learned of this morning, which sort of makes sense. I thought they’d “always” known it was a calendar. In any event, I can’t go to or read about any planetarium without remembering that… nor can I read about, or see pictures of, Stonehenge, let alone the solstices (solstici?) and not think “planetarium…”
    Thanks for the stroll back down the memory lane rabbit hole…

  4. Here in the southwest where we are blessed to have about 360 sunny days a year, I confess I don’t pay much attention to summer solstice. Though after living here for 25 years, whereas cloudy days didn’t phase me when I was on the east coast, now overcast days make me kinda grumpy and I miss my beautiful blue skies and fluffy clouds. Thankfully those days are few.

    At the end of each month I assess how I’ve managed myself in terms of a number of important things–how did I do that month managing diet, health/exercise, time spent progressing on a certain learning topic, key writing projects, etc. so I’m usually well aware of my progress, and my shortcomings. Happy to say that this week I am doing really well on writing-related goals. YEAH!

    • BK, I used to live in San Diego where the change of seasons was hardly noticeable. Winter was when you wore socks with your sandals.

      Way to go on meeting this week’s writing goals!

  5. One year I took my children to Woodhenge near Cahokia, IL for the summer solstice. Woodhenge was built by the Cahokian Indians around 1000 CE. As it should, the sun rose over the center post. Well, slightly off since the earth/sun relationship has changed in the last 1000 years. I loved it. My children thought I was nuts, but the pancakes after were worth getting up early for.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cahokia_Woodhenge

    • Alan, thanks for the fascinating info about Woodhenge. I wasn’t aware of it. Interesting how ancient peoples all over the world found ways to mark time and astronomic events.

  6. Happy Summer Solstice, Debbie! The clouds finally parted here in western Oregon yesterday, and I stayed up later than I intended stargazing. Here, sunset last night was at 9:02PM, and astronomical twilight didn’t end until 11:41. I almost made it to full night, but had to head to bed about then. Viewed the stars of Scorpius, including M4, a “globular cluster” of hundreds of thousands of stars just “west” of Antares.

    Of course, I’m paying for it this morning, especially since I was up at 4:50AM giving the cat his morning pill treats. I did make it out to catch the Moon and Jupiter in my telescope. Very cool to see Jupiter in daylight, two dark cloud bands visible despite our turbulent atmosphere.

    I am taking stock of my writing at mid-year. It’s been a mixed bag, mainly because I’ve still been going through a learning curve on my first mystery novel. After a grinding attempt at rewriting the first draft and a ton of notes, I realized I needed to take a step back, and write a new draft, after redoing the plot. I’m working with a developmental editor on this, and will be sending her my first three chapters and a synopsis of the book to get her take. I will say that I’m much happier with the storyline now.

    Reading-wise I’ve read probably ten mysteries, not as many as I’d like but have also been reading books on the inner game of writing, “The Practice” and “Breakthrough,” among others. I’ve also worked my way through several on-demand writing courses, including one by Sara Rosett on outlining cozy mysteries which was excellent,

    I’ve written a several short stories earlier this spring at a writer’s retreat, but none of them align with my mystery writing, so they are sitting in the virtual trunk for the moment.

    I also need to revamp my website and write a “reader magnet” that ties in with my new mystery series as a newsletter builder.

    As for celebrating the solstice, enjoying the sunlight is my main way 🙂

    Have a wonderful longest day of the year!

    • Dale, I was hoping you’d chime in on the astronomy aspect. Thanks for sharing your observations.

      Wow, you’ve been busy with both reading and writing efforts–good work.

      One reason it’s valuable to take stock from time to time is that you don’t always realize how much you’ve accomplished until you put it all together in one place.

      Years ago, I decided to make a portfolio of published writing clips. It didn’t feel as if I’d done much until I realized the articles filled two three-ring binders. That really gave me a lift at a time when I felt pretty discouraged about writing.

      Savor the sunshine!

  7. The hazel branches were used for dousing. The first Irish immigrants brought the practice to North Carolina, and it’s still used to find water, buried dead bodies, and spooky things.

    I’m getting my hair cut professionally today for the first time since the Great Unpleasantness so I will probably use it ceremonially in honor of the day.

    I found a really cool article yesterday on dogs being used to find electronics at crime scenes. Once again, we can agree that dogs are amazing critters.

    https://www.breitbart.com/crime/2022/06/19/photo-dog-trained-to-sniff-out-memory-devices-helps-catch-suspected-pedophile/

  8. Thank you for posting this today, Debbie. I’ve been down SO many astronomical rabbit holes lately, I must’ve left half my brain in the sky. The night of June 13/14 I happened to wake at midnight. From my sunroom I witnessed the most spectacular supermoon. Sleep deprived the next morning, I convinced myself it had to be the Summer Solstice moon. And sure enough, sunrise the next morning was at 5:05 a.m. (today: 5:06 a.m.), further cementing my certainty. It wasn’t until I read your post this morning that it clicked. I witnessed the Strawberry Moon. Which, actually, fits better in the WIP. Love happy accidents!

  9. To my American friends, don’t poke at the Canadians in June. It can be miserable for some. My day job has involved going up north and nothing sucks more than trying to sleep at 11:00 PM when it’s full daylight outside.

  10. Good morning, Debbie

    Thanks for the information on the planet parade. I’ll check that out tomorrow morning. Talking about Stonehenge and dancing like a Druid, reminded me of the first episode of Outlander. I’m not a dancer, but I would walk through one of those stones to visit another another time period.

    I don’t have any special traditions/celebrations for the middle of the year. I do take stock and consider where I’m at with my writing goals after I finish each book.

    Sorry, I’m so boring. I guess the end of spring and beginning of summer is a time when I’m buried in “catch-up” projects outside. Today, I’ll be taking a ritual sauna cleansing (sweat bath) cutting up downed trees from a recent wind storm.

    If you dance like a druid today, see if you can pass through the stone and visit the future. Check the stock market and give us some tips when you return.

    Have a wonderful week!

    • Sorry, Steve, my stock prediction record is dismal.

      Sounds like you’re too busy meeting goals to stop and count up your accomplishments…which includes release of a new book, United We Stand, Dude. Congratulations!

  11. Good morning, Debbie, and thanks for the reminder about the summer solstice and the suggestion to check progress on writing goals. Here in Memphis, we’re getting a full dose of sunshine for this longest day. (Actually, I’d appreciate a few clouds. It’s hot here.)

    We were in Calgary during the summer once and I remember watching the sun set at some ridiculously late hour. It didn’t drop vertically. It sort of slid along the horizon. Fascinating.

    Enjoy the day!

  12. Thanks for all the solstice trivia, Debbie!

    Here in the PNW (eastern Washington), I’m just glad to finally see summer arrive! Just in case you’re unaware, eastern Washington weather is as different from western Washington as North Dakota weather is from Louisiana weather. (Might be a tad of an overstatement…)

    We usually hit 80-90 degree weather by the end of May, give or take; this year, it arrived this week. I grilled steaks for the first time this season . . . just yesterday, because we’ve had cold, gale-force winds since about March 1st.

    Sunrise today was at 5:09a, sunset will be 8:59p, with twilight lasting until about 10p.

    It’s about dang time! 🙂

    • Glad you’re finally enjoying summer, Deb. I wanted to grill over the weekend but it kept raining–sigh.

      If I keep complaining about rain and cold, a super hot summer will make me eat my words when it finally arrives.

  13. I welcome the solstice every year, for the simple reason that where I am in the US (about 70 miles south of the Canadian border–I can almost see Garry from my house 😉 ) first light is well before 5AM, and it’s hard to convince my dog that just because it’s light doesn’t mean it’s time to get up.

    That said, I had my pages by 9AM, so there’s an upside. I think.

  14. Debbie – Love the long protracted beautiful MN lakeside sunsets this time of year.
    The last 18 months have been a medical thriller for me but the most recent surgical action returned with a better than expected result. Looks like no procedures or treatments until fall (or possibly even early winter)!
    Hope to start a new book (no writing/minimal marketing for a year), try and gain readers for the first four, and have mega-fun.
    Welcome summer!!

    • Tom, MN and MT both have long beautiful sunsets–our reward for short winter days.

      Glad your latest medical adventure turned out better than expected. Even though you haven’t been writing, I bet you’ve been squirreling away ideas that are ready and eager to be explored.

  15. A belated Happy Solstice, Debbie.

    For me, the Summer Solstice is the 2nd most important day of the year. The Winter Solstice is #1. Consequently, not only do I reflect on life on those days, but I have included something about them in each novel I’ve written.

    (and I don’t consider June 21 the “start” of summer; I consider it Midsummer)

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