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A Near-Perfect Summer Day

June 22, 2014

solstice garden 2014I don’t remember being aware of the summer solstice as a special day until I moved to Maine in the early 1980s. I find the quality of light at more northerly latitudes special all year round; but the long days of late June are especially magical in Maine. The light is clear, but not harsh, and late June can bring the best of Maine’s summer weather. This year has brought classic June weather, with sunshine, daytime highs in the 70s (F), breezes, low humidity, and cool nights.

I treat the summer solstice as a holiday celebrating these idyllic late June days. My goals for the day are to enjoy the light, to spend as much time as possible outdoors, and to suspend the normal routines of my day in favor of relaxation.

sunrise gardenI began yesterday’s solstice celebration by getting up and out to the garden early to look at the sunrise (which happens a little before 5 a.m. at this time of year). Then I went back to bed for a while, getting up again about 6:30 to go out for a morning walk. By mid-morning, I was sitting out on the deck with my breakfast and a novel (J.A. Jance’s latest mystery). I stayed on the deck for most of the rest of the day in a delicious state of relaxation – eating  lunch as well as breakfast there, reading my novel, and gazing out over the garden. At times, I paused from my reading to just drink in the beauty of the day. A hummingbird hovered at the red geranium (Pelargonium) flowers blooming in a container just a few feet from where I sat before moving on to the iris flowers in the blue and yellow border, the Heuchera blossoms in the deck border, and the peony blooms in the fence border. Bees buzzed among the flowers of Geranium ‘Biokovo,’ and tiger swallowtail butterflies flitted in and out of the garden. In the late morning, I decided to mark the official start of summer by gathering flowers from the garden to make arrangements of cut flowers for the house, the first of this season.

peony flower arrangement

In some years, I have stayed out on the deck into the evening of this longest day, watching the light fade and the stars come out. This year, however, I moved inside in the late afternoon, when the sky clouded over and temperatures dropped into the 60s. I ate my dinner indoors and then curled up on the living room sofa with a mug of tea to finish my novel.

The solstice really does mark the beginning of summer in Maine. Although the television meteorologists have been reminding us that the days will now begin to shorten, I know that it will be weeks before shorter days are noticeable. Meanwhile, I will keep the windows open, eat my meals on the deck, and enjoy the sunshine and warmth of these summer days.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2014 3:28 pm

    Oh this would have been a perfect addition to Seasonal Celebrations….I agree the summer solstice in the North is such a wonderful day to celebrate. Our weather has been perfect with highs in the 70s, clear nights in the 50s and wonderful bright sunlight to enjoy. I miss not being able to work outside but I still emander and take pictures….your garden oasis is perfect for reading and relaxing. Happy Summer and enjoy your relaxing time. Can’t wait to see all the new work going on there.

    • June 26, 2014 8:46 pm

      Donna, I thought of this for seasonal celebrations, but I never seem to get myself together to submit things to you before you post. Construction is moving along here, and I’m taking lots of pictures to put together at some point.

  2. June 22, 2014 3:36 pm

    Sleeping with open windows, eating on the deck and enjoying this gorgeous weather we are having are all good things. 🙂

    • June 26, 2014 8:47 pm

      Judy, I love that tipping point in June where having windows open becomes the norm. This really has been classic June weather for northern New England; I love it.

  3. June 22, 2014 4:04 pm

    Hi Jean, that sounds like the perfect day, so relaxing and enjoyable. Though I try to relax (and often have to be told to), most times I sit down, I start noticing and recalling all the jobs that need doing and then I feel guilty that I’m taking time out when I ought to be getting on with those. I look forward to the day when I can sit out and relax, with a cup of tea, a book, chocolate and wile away a few hours without once thinking about what I ought to be doing instead.

    • June 26, 2014 8:50 pm

      Sunil, I’ve always been good at relaxing 😉 . I try to make some progress on my to-do list each day; but as long as I’ve gotten something done, I feel free to relax. You may need to start practicing for that day you’re looking forward to 🙂 .

  4. June 22, 2014 5:42 pm

    it’s those quiet times between a good book and a mug of tea when you are lost in the beauty of your garden – that reward the planning and work

    • June 26, 2014 8:51 pm

      Diana, I agree. For me, this is what the work is all about — to create the beauty that can then be enjoyed.

  5. June 22, 2014 7:51 pm

    Jean, what a lovely day you had. I had a day very much like yours, but I am reading Stephen King’s ‘The Dome’. I’ve never read anything by your author, perhaps I should look for one!

    Your bouquet is delightful!

    • June 26, 2014 8:52 pm

      Diane, I’ve never read Stephen King (despite his being a local); too much suspense and creepiness for me. It is wonderful to get to the point in the season when I can have cut flowers in the house again.

  6. June 23, 2014 5:56 am


  7. June 23, 2014 9:56 am

    Delicious, just delicious!

    • June 26, 2014 8:53 pm

      Shen, The combination of wonderful weather and my newly retired state is making this summer especially delicious.

  8. June 23, 2014 10:39 am

    Sounds just about perfect to me!

    • June 26, 2014 8:54 pm

      Sarah, The only thing that made it near-perfect rather than perfect was not being able to sit out through the twilight and watch the stars appear.

  9. June 23, 2014 2:41 pm

    I don’t think I can imagine a more wonderful way to spend the day, Jean! We don’t get quite as many daylight hours here in Southern California but the longer days still feel luxurious.

    • June 26, 2014 8:56 pm

      Kris, I’m a little below the 45th parallel here, so we don’t get the amazing long summer days that they get at more northerly latitudes. I remember the June I spent in Alaska and the Yukon; above the 60th parallel, the light was amazing!

  10. June 25, 2014 12:33 am

    There are perfect days…

    • June 26, 2014 8:57 pm

      Charlie, There are, and we seem to be having an exceptional number of them this summer.

  11. June 25, 2014 9:06 pm

    What an absolutely fantastic way to spend the day. I’m a little jealous. All I could think this year was how I’m running out of time to get my garden chores done before the heat really sets in. I think I need to take a page out of your book and enjoy the days a little more.

    • June 26, 2014 8:59 pm

      Marguerite, You might consider setting yourself a relaxation/enjoy the garden rule — a certain time of day or a certain amount of time each week that is designated for putting aside to-do lists and chores.

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