Lag of Seasons
At 4:43 p.m on Saturday, the earth leaned toward the sun and hung suspended for a moment. Our northern hemisphere tilt gave us the first day of summer and day with the most sunlight. It is also the one day that Stonehenge aligns perfectly with the rising sun. it is also the one day that sitting on the head of the Sphinx in Egypt, you can watch the sun rise perfectly between the Pyramids.
The word solstice derives from sol (sun) + stit (stopped or stationary). The ancients observed that the sun hung at the apex of our earthly swing for just a moment—literally a moment—before it began its retreat southward as the earth begins another cycle of leaning and reeling.
Meteorologically, summer began on June 1st. Astronomically, summer began on June 21st. Kids and parents know that summer really began on the last day of school. In Door County, summer REALLY begins on 4th of July Weekend. For me, personally, summer begins when I can sit on the Big Back Deck and read and write.
We can ask who decides which is correct—meteorological, astronomical, school, calendar, or back deck appropriate? They are all arbitrary dates with a smattering of science. I default to the end of school. The warmest weather is yet to come. The dog days of August are a full two months away.
Scientists call this the lag of seasons. The heat of summer does not spontaneously erupt unless you live in an area where summer never really leaves. The cold of winter does not descend from the polar vortex exactly on December 21st unless you live in an area where winter never really leaves. This lag of seasons accounts for the delayed heat of summer and the delayed cold of winter. The seasons are more fluid than our calendars.
Several weeks ago, I put away my baselayers, mittens, and wool face garter. I still have a heavier fleece and a DC Pond Hockey Tournament toque in the mudroom, just in case. I have lived here long enough not to be fooled by ‘spring’. As I swapped one season’s clothing for another, I unfolded a baseball uniform shirt and paused. I was tempted to put the shirt back into its bin, assuming it an unnecessary garment this year. This lag of seasons has prolonged and delayed so much.
What do we do in the in between season? Our pre-COVID days are long gone. Our post-COVID days seem equally as far away. How do we move? What do we wear?
“…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as you have been forgiven, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.”
Paul wrote that in a letter to the Colossians in the first century C.E. Whether you are Christian or not, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, love, forgiveness, harmony, peace, and thanksgiving seem to be the perfect wardrobe for these days.
On our better days, we have demonstrated compassion and kindness, patience and love. On our worse days, we have demonstrated malice and contempt, impatience and indifference. We are aptly capable of both. As this lag of season lags on, let us clothe ourselves with our best intentions for ourselves and for the world around us.
It might be the only way we get through this.
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.