Summer Solstice!!

The earth in the northern hemisphere is in its season of profound, inspiring abundance. And I am working to appreciate every minute of it!

I have always loved the summer solstice! When I was a Minnesota ten-year-old, I never wanted to come inside from neighborhood games of Kick the Can until it was really dark. Now in my mid-70s living even further north, I find myself wanting to linger on the patio to hear the last sweet sounds of birdsong, to feel the cool night breeze arrive, and to admire the sunset after a busy day of low tide walks.

Christina and some young neighbors admiring a moon snail creating its egg casing

The summer solstice occurs when the earth has its longest days and shortest nights of the year. On our summer solstice (this year June 20) dawn occurred at 3:34 a.m., sunrise at 5:12 a.m., sunset at 9:10 p.m., and dark at 10:48 p.m. We go to bed in the light and wake up in the light.

The Plants

Plants are in photosynthesis heaven right now. They are utilizing these long days to work their life-giving magic on earth—“consuming light, carbon dioxide, and water” to produce oxygen and energy rich organic compounds aka lettuce leaves, bean pods, tomatoes, corn, etc. Life on earth is impossible without plants.

Tiny bean plants sometimes growing an inch a day, protected from crows until they are about 6 inches high

The Animals

We animals are completely dependent on the plant world, so HARVEST is our summertime focus—whether as hard-working farmers or gardeners, grocery shoppers, or clam diggers. So many vegetables, fruits, eggs, and organic meats are grown locally on our island. Summer potlucks are a deep green surprise of abundant eating delights!

Neighbors digging for geoducks (gooey ducks) on the exposed sand flats

Our mammalian counterparts—deer, coyote, rabbits, fox, racoons, and squirrels are busy, busy raising and feeding their young—as every gardener or farmer knows.

Doe and fawn grazing in our neighbor’s yard

Birds? Well, the evidence of their busyness is everywhere in flight, song, and, yes, bird poop on our patio fence. One friend commented, “Sure wish the birds did not have to sing so loud at 4:30 a.m.!” Honestly, I feel only gratitude to be living in a healthy environment where bird song populates the landscape, even those loud dawn choruses!

Soon enough—usually mid-July—most bird song will cease as courting behavior is complete, even in the case of second nesters. From a bird’s perspective, summer is beginning to wind down by mid-July! Some of the tiny shorebirds that migrate north to the Arctic begin migrating back south at this time!

Summer low tides

The summer’s low tides provide some of my favorite walks. (In winter the low tides here occur at night.)  And there is definitely no question that our little dog’s best outings of the year occur on the summer solstice beaches. She will stop and study beached jellyfish, geoduck clams, and moon snails  with us, but her personal priority is to clear the beach of all seagulls! She never bores of this self-assigned task!

Vivi staring at the geoduck foot that alerts geoduck “hunters” where to dig for their treasure, which can be as much as 3 feet under the sand

Jellyfish stranded on the sand when the low tide takes hold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little sea star on the sand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here on Whidbey Island we often say that summer does not begin until after July 4th.  Prevailing weather patterns from the north Pacific generally remain in place bringing us cooler air. Then finally, our little patch of the planet begins to warm. Sandals come out, sweaters get put away, swimming outdoors seems possible.

Neighborhood Solstice Fire

If spring has been wet and there is not a fire ban by Summer Solstice, I like to light a solstice fire and invite neighbors to gather. We share stories and offer sticks of harvested lavender from last fall for prayers of  both appreciation and concern. It is one way we continue to weave a web of friendship in our neighborhood.

Neighborhood solstice fire

How can one do anything except be outside taking in the inspiration of this time of abundance and beauty?!?!?

Fearless gull chaser fast asleep in her yard after miles and miles of gull chasing

 

25 replies
  1. Glenda "GG" Goodrich
    Glenda "GG" Goodrich says:

    Hear hear! Thank you for glorious recount of all that we love about summer. So lovely to hear about how you are basking in the joy of it all! xo

    Reply
  2. Sherry Helmke
    Sherry Helmke says:

    Ann, Here in CO we love waking up to the 6 a.m. bird calls and rising with the summer sun. I didn’t realize the songs might stop in mid-July with the end of courting season. We’ll listen and see if that’s true on the western slope. Enjoy the Whidbey air. Summer blessings, Sherry

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Hello Sherry! Thanks for your careful reading of things. I am guessing the diminishment of bird song will also be true on the western slope because you are also considered “northern” to migrating birds. Ann

      Reply
  3. Brian Dutcher
    Brian Dutcher says:

    Oh the memories you have triggered!! In my youth I could not get enough of being outside. Trips to 7 Springs by bicycle were one of my favorite adventures. Or catching tadpoles in the little creek that meanders through Todd Park. Or fishing for bullheads in the Cedar River off the bridge near Klagge’s. Thanks my old friend 🙂

    Reply
  4. Gretchen Staebler
    Gretchen Staebler says:

    It feels so weird to go to bed two hours before dark! But, somehow, my body rhythm doesn’t change with the planet/sun juxtaposition. But now it’s light before I get up at 5:00, which makes it easier to be on the trails ahead of hoard. Thanks, Ann, as always. Oh, I’m eating peas from my garden; no rabbits or deer have breached my new fence. 🙂

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Hello Brian! So happy to read these comments. The very first trip I lead as a “naturalist” was at age 13 or 14 when I put my three-year-old sister on the back of my bike with feet in the baskets to go to Seven Springs and look for the crabbies and the fishies. Such great memories of our growing up years!

      Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Thank you, Gretchen. Your pea plants are ahead of mine! And you are right, long days do encourage a bit of over achieving in the outdoor adventure department! Ann

      Reply
  5. Diane T
    Diane T says:

    Enjoyed reading your post in celebration of spring! My garden, birds and small animals bring me peace and joy! I am pining for the ocean and the resonance of the waves creating a heart beat! Love to you and Christina and your fearless gull chaser!

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Hello Diane! I think you are right—I am describing summer solstice, but here in there Pacific NW it is still very much spring. You will have to come up for some low tide and watch Vivi the extraordinary beach athlete!

      Reply
  6. Chris Corrigan
    Chris Corrigan says:

    Happy solstice to my Salish Sea sisters to the south! Our beaches are stone and rock so now is the time of year for seaweed harvesting and little kids hunting shore crabs and gunnels.

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Thanks for the image from your northern beaches. Whether sand or rock, winter or summer, beaches are magical for all of us young at heart. ann

      Reply
  7. Deb Lund
    Deb Lund says:

    I smiled all through this, from the Minnesota Kick-the-Can beginning (yes, me, too), through the plants, animals, and sunshine, to sweet Vivi’s reminder to let go once in a while.

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Deb, we just went to the beach again today and honestly spent a huge amount of time completely admiring one of the most athletic little dogs we have ever seen. Just when we think she can go no more, in flies a gull and off she goes! Such joy! Such determination!

      Reply
  8. Jdrome Kerner
    Jdrome Kerner says:

    I am experiencing my first summer in San Francisco after 88 in New York city and state and I must say
    I am enjoying the temperate climate, even with an average temperature in summer of 55 deg. Even with the scarcity of rain , plants seem to thrive and blossom all year. My “backyard” is now the Golden Gate Park Botanic Garden and I am grateful. Jerome

    Reply
  9. George Ziller
    George Ziller says:

    Reading your comments on youthful enthusiasm for summer delights, like Kick the Can, reminded me that just 500 miles south of your territory, I with friends was busy playing that same game in the street in front of our home. and yes, into the setting sun. As our home had a somewhat steep terrace leading down to the sidewalk, while I struggled mowing the grass there until I got a bit older, I always delighted also in running along sideways above the terrace and then leaping down the terrace, landing knees first and sliding on my legs and bum down. So much fun. At 81 n0w, could no longer do that. Thanks Ann for stimulating these lovely memories.

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Seems several of my readers resonated with the childhood game, Kick the Can! May there be children still who play that game into the dusk of summer evenings. And may we never forget the infinite gifts of the natural world! Blessings, Ann

      Reply
  10. Bonnie
    Bonnie says:

    So lovely, Ann! The summer soundtrack of early birdsong is such a treat. My civil twilight walks are a full chorus: robins, finches, wrens and thrush. I find myself grateful on these long, cooler days as the warblers and towhees and blackbirds chime in. How lucky we are to live in this beautiful state of bliss.

    Reply
  11. Katharine Weinmann
    Katharine Weinmann says:

    This blog about summer is so you, Ann. The botanist, the scientist, the observer, and nurturer of Nature. Reminding us to notice and enjoy its abundance of beauty, diversity, change. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      With appreciation for your comments. Truly working to keep the message about nature’s unfailing, remarkable presence in our human centric world! Ann

      Reply

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