If all goes according to plan, I’m in Alaska for the Summer Solstice, but sadly, not Haines. Juneau is one degree south and one degree east of Haines, which means while my family will have 18 hours and 35 minutes of daylight today, I’ll only have 18 hours and 16 minutes. The day after the solstice, when I return home, I’ll make that time up.
At the solstices, my thoughts turn to Stonehenge. Much has been written about this ancient monument, so I won’t try to encapsulate it here. My favorite short history of Stonehenge, its construction and mathematics is Heath’s Stonehenge by Wooden Books (ask your local bookstore. I know our excellent bookseller, The Babbling Book, carries this wonderful series, hopefully yours does too!). Western scholars have always believed that whoever built Stonehenge learned the skills from the Egyptians, conveniently putting the “savages” under the tutelage of a civilization more acceptable to Western thinking. Heath indicates that Stonehenge may have been immediately contemporary to, or even predated the Egyptian pyramids!
To me, Stonehenge and its alignment to the two Solstices symbolizes humankind’s ability to recognize a connectedness to Nature and the wheel of the seasons, a connectedness that most of us have forgotten, but which our family is trying to strengthen.
So it’s Midsummer’s Day. Within a few days the Solstice stasis that brackets this day will end, and the hours of daylight will begin to decrease. We’ll begin to move toward autumn and beyond that, winter. Time to savor the height of the season, whether we’re together or apart, while we can.