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MARTHA SEZ: ‘I have read that people traditionally roll naked in the morning dew to bring good fortune for the coming year’

June 21, 2019
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Happy Summer solstice! Friday, June 21, 2019, is the longest day of the year.

The farther north you go, the longer the day will be.

Upstate means north. We here in the town of Keene think of ourselves as not only Upstate, but more Upstate than anybody else. Residents of Albany think they live in Upstate New York, just because Albany is not as far south as New York City (known up here simply as "the City"), but they are wrong. We know that Albany is Downstate.

Because Keene is north of Albany, Midsummer's Day will be slightly longer in Keene than in the state capitol. By carefully comparing a color-coded graph I found on to the latitudes on my model globe, I have ascertained that Keene will enjoy approximately 15.5 hours of daylight on the day of the summer solstice, while New York City will get only 15. By the same token, I will see half an hour more daylight than my sister, who lives in the Metropolitan Detroit area. For my daughter and her family in Ventura, Calif., Midsummer's Day will be about 14.5 hours hours long from sunrise to sunset.

While we hate to admit it, Keene is not as far "up north" as some other cities on the planet. Even Plattsburgh is north of Keene, although Keene residents commonly say they are going "down to Plattsburgh."

How long is the longest Midsummer's day in the world? The length of the day on June 21, 2019, from sunrise to sunset, will be about 17 hours for Dublin, Ireland, 18.5 hours for Stockholm, Sweden, and 21 hours for Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Canada, and Reykjavik, Iceland.

All of the countries north of the Arctic Circle, including Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, as well as Iceland and the US state of Alaska, will experience the Midnight Sun during their summer months. After the sun sets, twilight continues all night, lighting the sky with bright sunset colors. Barrow, Alaska, and the rest of the Arctic Circle will have 24 hours of daylight this June 21st.

But wait-the summer months are opposite for the two poles. If summer is the time of the midnight sun on the North Pole, what is happening on the South Pole? Darkness. The sun does not rise at all.

This is winter in the Southern Hemisphere. June 21 will be the shortest day of the year, the day of the winter solstice.

In South America, residents of Santa Cruz, Argentina, will experience fewer than 8 hours of daylight. The summer solstice will fall on Dec. 22, just before Christmas.

For my friend Jim, who is originally from the County Down, Northern Ireland, and now lives in Perth, Australia, the day will bring only about 10 hours of daylight. Many Australians have British and European roots, and this reversal of seasons must be strange for them. Imagine the descendants of Druids and Vikings, carrying in their DNA ancient memories of StoneHenge and Maypole dancing, Down Under. Oh well, one gets used to anything.

In Iceland, as well as Scandinavian countries, the summer solstice is celebrated on June 23 or 24, on St. John the Baptist's Day or St. John's Eve. In Iceland, cows can talk and seals become human on that day, and I have read that people traditionally roll naked in the morning dew to bring good fortune for the coming year. And why not?

After all, what is so rare as a day in June?

Really, it doesn't get any better than this, which is a good thing to remember when we are on the verge of complaining about the rain or the heat or the humidity or whatever. Now, if ever, come perfect days, according to the poet James Russell Lowell.

Everyone is glad when summer comes. You can see that the birds get giddy zooming around and singing, or vocalizing, as the scientists would have it. What about the coyotes, bobcats, bears and deer? Even if they do their frolicking and cavorting off where we can't see them, I am sure they are celebrating. They must feel relieved that they're not standing under a pine tree in the freezing drizzle or crouched under a rock somewhere.

There is simply no use finding fault with summer in the Adirondacks; that just makes us look finicky and impossible to please. It is so nice to be Upstate.

Have a good week.



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