The Summer Solstice occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun at its maximum of 23° 26’. Though the Summer Solstice is an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used like Midsummer to refer to the day on which it occurs. Except in the polar regions (where daylight is continuous for half of the year), the day on which the Summer Solstice occurs is the day of the year with the longest period of daylight. Thus the seasonal significance of the Summer Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual shortening of nights and lengthening of days. The summer solstice occurs in June in the Northern Hemisphere, in December in the Southern Hemisphere.
The word solstice derives from Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).
Tomorrow marks the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. It’s not really any longer than other days, but the sun is out for longer, which makes it feel longer than the other 364 days. Since I graduated from college and got on some semblance of a regular schedule, time has become a bigger deal because it moves so much faster. Months go by like weeks. People come and go. I look forward to things and then they’re gone. I look back on things and then they’re gone. The machine keeps churning away. “We’re all moving forwards and we’re never ever coming back.”
I’ve made a conscious effort to slow it all down this month and I’m surprised at how much energy it’s taken to just chill out. There are some parts of it that I’m good at and some that I’m not. I’m eating better and sleeping better and exercising better and not yelling in my car and cutting people some slack and cutting myself some slack and sitting outside watching this baby rabbit in my yard instead of inside getting worked up about whatever Thing Of The Day I can’t fix. Life’s too short, even on the longest day of the year. On Tuesday, in less than 48 hours, the cycle reverses and these days that are now long will start to get shorter again. And the machine churns on.
A byproduct of all this slowing down has been having time to think about things I haven’t thought about in a long time. One of those things is that I have a grandmother out there with Alzheimer’s Disease who doesn’t know who I am anymore when I talk to her on the phone. I’ve adjusted to it pretty seamlessly over the past few years because I knew it was coming for a while. And then something I was doing this week jogged my memory about how she would take me to this pond when I was a kid and we would feed the ducks. More often than not, she would feed the ducks and I would catch these caterpillars that were blue and fuzzy with boxy black spots. She’d be ready to leave but I wouldn’t want to leave my bugs so she’d get out some paper plates and help me gather them up in one plate and put the other plate on top like a clam shell. Then we’d drive home with the plate-clam full of bugs teetering on my lap and I would probably let them out in the back yard.
When I remembered that, memories did what memories do and a few dozen others fell out of my brain along with it. Late nights watching baseball games on TV, eggs and Eggos in the mornings, her loud snoring that kept me awake from across the house, making Christmas ornaments out of pine cones, the smell of roast beef every Sunday, singing me “Deep and Wide” a dozen times over to get me to fall asleep, her weird slippers, seeing her face out in the audience at my band concerts, the time she accidentally maced me out in Yellowstone, the time she bashed her head on a sign in Canada and was more worried about me being freaked out than about herself, spirited games of Monopoly with my grandfather, the way she’d scold him when he tried to stir things up, hiding from her in the top of her magnolia tree, rolling my eyes when she and my mom stopped to snatch rocks or moss or wildflowers from somewhere they weren’t supposed to, picking up shells at Topsail Beach… just a lot of memories, amazing memories. I get that she’s old and that this happens, but I do miss her. It’s weird for me to even say that out loud (to the internet) because I know she’s not gone. But those times are gone and her memories are gone and we’re all moving forwards and we’re never ever coming back.
The thing I struggle with the most is knowing that I can’t get any of that time back, but I think the trick is learning to appreciate it for what it is and for all of the future things that wouldn’t be the future without it. I remember my grandmother as an adventurous, ballsy, opinionated and fiercely compassionate woman. She grew flowers and watched birds and cooked circles around me and chased down squirrels with a spatula and kept her pantry stocked with all my favorite things and laughed with me when my granddad got his dentures stuck together from eating my bubble gum ice cream. Much of that might be buried deep inside her head somewhere now, but if I’m lucky, maybe I inherited a fraction of it. Someone has to pick up where she left off and I think it’s time to move on. So I’ll talk to her on the phone and see her over holidays and she won’t remember who I am, but I’ll remember who she is and how much she gave me and then I’ll work on doing some stuff with my life that maybe someone else can remember.
And I guess that’s about all.
- 2 years ago
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