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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer is OFFICIALLY Here--Sorry, Ava

If you weren't already aware, yesterday was the summer solstice here in the northern hemisphere. (So yes, Ava, that means it is officially summer and no longer spring.) That means that yesterday was the longest day of the year--the day when the sun is out the longest. From today on until the winter solstice, the days will progressively get a little shorter and a little darker...unless, of course, you're in the southern hemisphere like our own Heather, who just experienced the winter solstice.

Just how long yesterday was (and therefore just how much sun you got) depends largely on how far north you live.

In Texas, it has been summer for months. Searing heat. Scorching sun. All that stuff that most people love but I hate with every fiber of my being. Where I live, the sun rose at about 6:20 in the morning and didn't set until somewhere in the range of 8:40 in the evening. That's over fourteen hours of sun...sun that burns and leaves ugly blisters and causes skin cancer.

Augh! Too much.

(Sorry. I digress. Can you tell I'm not a fan of summer in Texas?)

I lived in Juneau, Alaska once, for about a year. In case your geography skills aren't all that great, Alaska is significantly farther north than Texas. That means that on the summer solstice, they get a LOT more sun than we do in Texas.

I don't recall the precise times for sunrise and sunset for the summer solstice during the year that I lived there, but I do recall that the sun was out until somewhere in the range of 11:00 or 11:30 pm, and then it rose again at around 2:00 am. Yep--over twenty-one hours of sunshine. TWENTY-ONE! Heck, even when it was "dark," it wasn't really dark. It was more like twilight, where you could see the brightness of the sun off over the mountains in the distance.

Despite the fact that there was considerably more sunshine in the summer in Alaska than there is in Texas, I didn't mind it in the least. I loved it, actually. It was bright and cheery and energizing. It made me feel like I could keep going for hours on end, and in fact I often lost track of how late it was. The sun was still out. Why were all the stores closing?

The Alaskan sun wasn't accompanied by the oppressive heat and humidity we have in Texas--the sort that saps all of your energy and leaves you feeling like you got run over by a dump truck a few times, and all the while you're covered in an ever-present vat of sweat so disgusting that you feel like your hair will NEVER dry again.

Instead, there was only one day that summer in Alaska that I remember it getting up into the 80s. That was a day that the locals told me it was "balmy." I tried to discreetly hide my laughter at such a statement, because for Alaskans, 80 probably is balmy. If it's only 80 in Texas on a summer day, we designate it a holiday, take the day off of everything but the lake or pool, and rejoice that our air conditioners won't have to keep working at an insane pace until 3 am in order to get it down to a reasonable temperature for sleeping. If we're lucky and it lasts for a few days, our electric bill might not make us want to gouge out our eyes that month. We might just want to cry for a few hours while we sell plasma to pay the bill.

The sun, in Alaska, was not my enemy. Instead, for so many people who live in areas so far north where they get such a delightful amount of sun in the summer, it is the winter solstice that is to be loathed. The opposite takes place in the winter, where the sun doesn't rise until lunchtime and is already setting again a couple of hours later, and it is cold and dark and depressing. Seasonal depression is the expectation. It's the norm. If you don't suffer from it, you should count yourself as one of the lucky ones. (I did have seasonal depression from the darkness, but I loved the cold. Too bad they go hand-in-hand.)

So, begrudgingly, I can understand the feelings of those people who live up in farther northern climes, who delight in the impending return of summer each year. It may take me a few moments to remind myself that I, too, once upon a time took great pleasure in the extended hours of daylight and the energy it provided. Okay, I'll admit it. Sometimes it takes a whack over the head, because I'm so caught up in how gross and tired and miserable the Texas heat makes me to remember that it isn't so horrid in the summer everywhere.

Because of that, if I should rain on your celebration that summer is upon us by grumbling about how long it will be until winter will return, feel free to give me a good, solid whack. (Just not too hard. That'll only make me grumble more.)

Do you live in an area where you can't wait for summer to finally arrive? Do you delight in the sunshine? Or are you more like me, where you curse it with every breath you take?

23 comments:

  1. Catherine!!! I am cursing you!! Stop reminding me that summer is here. Summer means my birthday is just days away and I'd rather not be reminded of the fact that I'm entering my last good year. (Ducking so that whatever Samantha Grace and Deb Marlowe just threw at me will miss me completely.)

    Summer in North Carolina is hot! (Not as hot as it was when I grew up in Houston, that's even hotter than it is in Dallas for you. Maybe not by a lot, but by *some* and that's all that counts in Texas.) In fact, my son spent a couple weeks in July with my father in Houston a few years ago. When he came home he told me "Mom, I'm not afraid of going to hell. It can't be hotter than Houston." I don't think they should use that as an advertising slogan.

    He asked me how I could have possibly grown up there and not have melted. I told him I lived in "air-conditioned Houston". (Apparently my father had him out and about a lot! Crazy man!!)

    As a kid summer was the best time of year. No school, and the whole summer to do whatever you wanted (indoors of course). But now that I'm older, autumn is my favorite season. I could live in autumn year round. Nice temperatures, pretty leaves, no allergies. *sigh* Now I'll dream about autumn all day long. ;)

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    1. Hey! I am going to smack you! LOL. I predicted a couple of weeks ago that your life would just start getting good as you neared "the year it all goes downhill" & I believe I was right. ;P

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    2. Age is all in the mind, Ava. YOU are the one making yourself older, not the number of years you've lived. My father has been an old fart for as long as I can remember, because he's thought of himself as old and acted old. My mother has been much younger than the numbers tell us for a very, very long time...because she refuses to believe the number. :) Get over it.

      And yes, Houston is hotter than Dallas by *thismuch*, and that makes all the difference. Yet another reason that I hate Houston. :) When I went to the University of Houston, they were very proud of the fact that they owned the first air conditioned building in the state of Texas. So proud that they kept it COLD in that building. I loved it. I intentionally took classes in that building, because I knew I wouldn't melt there.

      No allergies in autumn? I wish I had your allergies. LOL.

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    3. See - I knew Samantha would throw something at me, but I didn't know it was going to be a fist. ;) And yes - this year is looking good so far.

      Catherine ~ How dare you hate Houston! We are going to have an all Texas rumble soon. ;) As for allergies - the spring is bad here in North Carolina. The autumn, not at all - at least not for me.

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    4. I didn't hate Houston until I lived there. LOL. (And I would hate it a lot less if they had built their highway system a little more driver friendly.)

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  2. Catherine,

    I like summer mostly because I love the light. It gets really muggy in Wisconsin, too, but it only lasts for a few days then it rains and everything is cooler. We had a storm last night and it blew in cooler air. I was able to turn the air off last night. I love to sleep with the windows open and a fan going.

    But I totally understand where you are coming from. I grew up in Arkansas where a day in the 80s would have been heavenly. We still go visit in the summer because that's when the kids are out of school, so I get a good taste of the summer heat.

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    1. You turned the air off????? IN SUMMER???? That is something I haven't imagined being able to do outside of that year in Alaska, where we didn't even HAVE air conditioning. (Well, I had it in my car, because I bought my car in Texas. It was something that fascinated all of the kids who worked at the movie theater with me--my second job up there. "You have an air conditioner? WOW!!!")

      I'd imagine Arkansas can get pretty hot in the summer, too. All of those deep southern states tend to get the heat and the humidity. The southwestern states at least avoid the humidity for the most part, though. *sigh*

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  3. Oh man, I'm not a fan of summer. It's the season I get a sunburn just walking to the mailbox or driving to the grocery store--darn German skin! lol Seems like it's been stinking hot here in Indiana since the end of March. I'm kinda over it. But by far, my favorite season is the fall. Autumn in the Midwest is just gorgeous!

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    1. I've got the same German skin, Sandi, so I feel your pain. I once had a dermatologist tell me I had the fairest skin he'd ever seen (SCARY coming from a dermatologist!) and that I should never leave the house without SPF 45 or higher on. Someday, I'm going to live in an area that has four seasons!

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    2. LOL. Catherine ~ I think my Scottish skin is even fairer than yours. I'm like a freakin' ghost.

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  4. Winter used to be my favorite season growing up in WV. We'd have real snow (not this icy sleet stuff NC seems to get) from October to March. Now I have to agree with Ava that Autumn is the best season (and not just because I got married in the fall).

    There are pretty leaves, mild weather and apples and pumpkin are in season.

    Sam I am, no thank you ma'am, I'll skip the heat and humidity of summer.

    BTW, I have German skin too. My shoulders are the only part of me that burn and that's only until I get a base tan layer. A few days of SPF 4 or 6 and I might start to color a bit. Any higher on the SPF and I don't tan at all. Unlike my husband who will get sun poisoning through his shirts-even the ones with spf protection.

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    1. I think I'm more like your husband. I have been burned through my clothes before. And no matter what, I do not tan. I burn, I splotch, or I stay white as a ghost. That's jut my lot in life. Real snow is something I've seen far too little of in this life. :) But I know what you mean about the icy/sleet stuff. That's usually the only thing we get in Texas.

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  5. Oh, Juneau! I actually spent a lot of time researching Juneau and tried to convince my husband to move there. Or at least visit from April to August every year. :D It looks soooo beautiful. I'm in NC, and while I can take the heat, I can't take the bugs. I have at least 30 bites all over my legs, which means I can't sleep at night unless I take an antihistamine which knocks me out for 10 hours. I'm from San Jose by the San Francisco bay area, where the summers were never too hot, too humid, or too buggy. I too love the fall in NC and the winters, too. It's the spring with the pollen and the summer bugs I could easily do without.

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    1. Juneau is GORGEOUS!!! You should look for a photographer named Pat Costello on Facebook. He lives in Juneau, and posts frequent photos of the area. He used to have a website called Juneau Photos, but hosting it got to be too costly, so now he just uses Facebook to let the world see his work. His photos were one of the deciding factors in me deciding to move there.

      Did you know that after you've been an Alaska resident for more than a year, they pay you to live there? Seriously. It's called the Permanent Fund Dividend. Great stuff. And they don't charge state income taxes, either. But the cost of living is significantly higher there than it is in many of the parts of the country, so I don't think the PFD is enough to make up for it. Too bad. I worked two jobs while I lived there, and still barely made ends meet.

      And I don't do bugs, either. Yet another strike against Texas.

      Maybe we should move to Juneau together. LOL.

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    2. Cynthia ~ My new scent right now is "After Bite" Yuck! But it's better than itching.

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    3. Ava - LOL!!

      And Catherine, I think we need a nice long writer's retreat!! :D

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  6. Ok, y'all. I grew up in area where in area in California where it was about 60 degrees year around. So, I never knew what summer was. Then we moved to Louisiana and learned that summer was nine months out of the year and decided that I don't really like it. However, now I'm in Montana and will learn if I like summers here. It still hasn't been a summer yet here. I mean when you have to turn a heater I don't consider that summer. I've also heard that people will complain that it's hot when it's like 80degrees. This should be an interesting summer.

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    1. LOL, Melody. No, if you're running the heater, that is NOT summer. I'm absolutely with you on that one. Summers in Louisiana are very similar to summers in Texas. In Juneau, the temps could be in the 40s at some point during the day pretty much every day of the year. I can handle that. I could probably handle the 60s every day of the year, too. It's supposed to be back up in the triple digits again here next week. I'm not looking forward to it.

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  7. We do experience the four seasons, so many look forward to summer. The bad thing is that we've started summer with a heat wave. It's the high 90s today and these temps will continue till Saturday.

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    1. I just saw that we're back up in the triple digits on Monday. *sigh* Lucky us. Enjoy your four seasons, Jane!

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  8. I think I'm like a lot of people: as soon as it's hot, I want it to be cold. Then as soon as it's cold, I want it to be hot.

    Just no pleasing me!

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    1. I like your philosophy, actually. It would make me feel like less of a weather-grump if I was around you, since I only wish it was cold all of the time. :)

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