When the Sun Stood Still

Edith here, writing from a hot, summery north of Boston.

Yesterday the sun stood still. That is, it was the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. The word is from the Latin solstitium – “point at which the sun seems to stand still” (according to Etymology Online, one of my favorite word history sites).

I love marking those days during the year when the light changes. From today onward, even though temperatures will increase and everyone calls it summer, the days begin to shorten in length until September’s autumnal equinox.

In my garden, the garlic and onions mostly cease producing new green stalks and instead pour their energy into swelling into bulbs underground.

A little of Edith’s garlic crop after harvest and curing a couple of years ago.

Birds take note of day length, as do other, above-ground crops. Ancient peoples did too. Perhaps most famously, Stonehenge’s Neolithic builders seem to have made it so the sun on the summer solstice rises above the Heel stone and falls in the center. On the winter solstice it sets also perfectly centered.

Summer Solstice Sunrise over Stonehenge by Andrew Dunn, 21 June 2005,  http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com/ This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

I haven’t yet visited Stonehenge, but hope to before I shed this mortal coil. Meanwhile, I’m celebrating the start of summer with several online cozy events. We listed them in the last Wickeds newsletter, but I’ll give you a quick recap:

  • I, along with Barb, Jessica, and a bunch of other cozy author pals, will read and schmooze at the Mystery Writers of America New England “Keeping It Cozy” virtual event on June 23, 2021 at 7:00 pm ET. Register here
  • I’ll celebrate my cozy mysteries with three other authors on a Bibliomystery panel, a free virtual event hosted by Houston’s Murder by the Book and Kensington Publishing on June 26 at 2 pm EDT. Register here.
  • At “Hot Cozies, Cool Summer Reading,” twelve Kensington cozy authors, including Sherry Harris and me, share our picks for cool summer reads from 8-10:15 PM EDT. There will be giveaways in this free online Facebook event.

Back to seasons – and writing – I find it a comfort that the solstice happens every June and December, just as the spring and fall equinoxes occur without fail. To everything, its season. I’m glad I’m not a person who was scared every year that the sun would burn me up if the days didn’t start to shorten, or that I would freeze and never eat again if the days continued to shorten in December and the sun didn’t return, as ancient people feared .

The process of writing a book similarly has a season, although for me they aren’t tied to the calendar seasons. There’s always the first page, the story building in the beginning chapters, the terrible sloggy middle, the exciting ending – all of it together making the first draft. I then revise and revise and revise. With every book I send in the manuscript (and cross my fingers my editor will like it). Copyedits come in for each book, then proofs, then publication date arrives, with the flurry of promotion accompanying it. And always there’s the trepidation this will be the book no one likes.

But even if it is, I’ll write another. And another and another. I can’t NOT add one more book season to my life.

Readers: What one thing must you do? Does it have seasons?

24 Thoughts

  1. The only thing I can think of that I must do lately is weed and grow my garden! I love the end of winter when the crocuses pop up, and then all the others follow. The seasons that involve flowers and digging in the dirt are my favorite!

  2. The seasons to me represent change and learning to adapt. Took me many years to figure that out because I’m a person that doesn’t embrace change. As I’ve gotten older, a some wiser I hope, I’ve learned to relax and go with the flow to find that change doesn’t have to mean a bad or sad thing. The big step that I took on that realization was when we sold out, packed up and moved to a place we have always loved all on a leap of faith.

    One thing that I think I must do (because it brings me such joy that I can’t imagine not doing it) is photography. After hubby pulled me into the world of cameras and trying to capture what the mind’s eye sees, there’s been no turning back for me. I love it! It’s all about change too – different cameras, lens, setting, time of day for natural lighting fighting with shadows, and the one thing I have always lacked – patience. There are very few days that go by that I don’t hold a camera at least for a little bit of time. Even one shot makes the day complete. I relate it to you writing that one perfect paragraph. It may not be the most important thing by itself, but in the large scheme of things it plays a very important part. I think we all need that one thing that drives us – that makes the bleakest day seem a bit brighter.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  3. When I was a child, I complained about the hot summers a lot. After the really cold winter we had this year I promised myself I would not complain about the heat…just enjoy the changing season. 😉 I like this poem about the seasons that I have shared with artist friends:
    “Winter is an etching,
    Spring a watercolor,
    Summer an oil painting
    And autumn a mosaic of them all.” by Stanley Horowitz

    As for what I must do…reading books is something I do daily and would be lost without it.

  4. The longer days are the best part of summer for me. I hope one day to be far north on the summer solstice and see if not the midnight sun, the midnight dusk.

    1. One year we happened to be in Fairbanks, Alaska, on the Summer Solstice. It never got completely dark that night. They celebrate the night there with a golf tournament. The mayor is in the party that tees off at midnight.

  5. As an accountant working at a company, I am not subject to tax season. (There’s no way I’d survive that.) But I am subjected to a monthly cycle. Month end close, reconciliations, write offs to prepare for month end close again. Honestly, it is hard to get time off because there is always something critical to be done.

  6. Another ancient ruin that is thought to be older than Stonehenge is Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland. They give a tour where you can go underground and they simulate the sunlight shining in on the solstice. An awesome experience!

  7. Gardening, I love to plant pansies in the winter and petunias in the summer, and in between I plant other plants also. Have a Great week and stay safe.

  8. As I shake off the months of moving and return to reading good friends’ writing, your post reminds me: I must go outside as often as possible in the waning light of late afternoon, to see and remember that magic.

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