Story last updated at 6/24/2009 - 10:45 am
With the solstice now behind us, our days are getting shorter. That may seem like a needlessly negative thing to say - after all, when the sun sets at 10 p.m. and rises before 4 a.m., it's a bit silly to talk about losing daylight.
But like all of our seasonal shifts, something happens inside us in response.
At these latitudes, no one can deny the effect of the seasons on how we feel.We naturally start to have more energy in the spring. In fall and winter we tend to quiet down and turn inward. But what happens at summer solstice?
Well, during winter solstice, the mirror celebration, we celebrate the darkest light of the year because what follows is the return of light. So at summer solstice, when we celebrate the longest day of the year, we're also marking the return of darkness.
The return of darkness? That doesn't sound like something we'd celebrate so gleefully.
A friend of mine who lives in the lower 48 asked me recently if the Fourth of July was a sad holiday in Alaska because the days were now getting shorter.
No, I told her, we have a couple months until the days get short enough for us to remark on them and even longer before we start feeling sad. But whether we talk about it or not, at some level I think we do respond to the incremental shortening of the days.
When we celebrate the summer solstice, I think what we are really celebrating is a turning point, a shift in our energy - and maybe a corresponding shift in how we spend our days.
Our response to the reminder that the days are slowly shrinking? Wringing all the fun we can out of summer.!
So even the smallest communities pull out all the stops for the Fourth of July. And the celebration doesn't stop there.
In Juneau, we're welcoming back Gold Rush Days this weekend and celebrating the area's mining and logging history. Along with Ketchikan and Sitka, we're also seizing the night June 27 for Only Fools Run at Midnight.
Looking a little farther ahead, the month of July in Southeast is loaded with community events and celebrations. From the Fourth of July in every town to Home Skillet Music Festival in Sitka to the Haines Fair, Ketchikan Blueberry Arts Festival, Kake Dog Salmon Festival and much more in just the next six weeks, we seem determined to squeeze all the fun out of summer we can.
A few weeks ago I wrote a column addressed to graduates. In reply, I received a nice e-mail reminding me that it's not just graduates who face turning points in their lives. Life changes and challenges come to all of us, usually much more unexpectedly than graduation.
Maybe a good way to plan for the unexpected turning points in our lives is to practice on the predictable ones, like the changing of the seasons.
In this week's issue of the CCW we have several stories about new starts - from a business story about a new Oriental Rug business in town to an arts story about a new gallery opened by Juneau artists. In the health section, an organic gardener offers inspiration to seize the sunlight and plant - or just do something with that rhubarb flourishing in your yard.
Reading these stories about our neighbors with the idea of turning points in mind, I start to see something. These are not new graduates starting a new venture. We don't always learn what compelled them to make a new start.
Maybe solstice has inspired you to seize summer and start something new, or maybe your turning point will come on a gloomy October day. Many turning points are mixed bags like the solstice - energizing on one hand, saddening on the other. If we can wrap our minds are the yin/yang of summer solstice, maybe, just maybe, we can be a little more ready for the next turning point life throws at us.
Katie Spielberger may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org