Today is the summer solstice. Time for mid-summer night madness. Growing up in California, I never noticed the solstice. Yes, the days became longer but when you are dealing with long over 100 degree F days, you don't think much about how long the day is. You just want to cool off.
It was not until I moved north to Washington state that I grew to appreciate the long lingering days around the solstice. The farther north you go, the longer the day becomes and you also have a longer twilight. The sun sets but the light lingers on; the gloaming. That is such a cool word for twilight.
Here in Seattle, we have a full 15 hours, 59 minutes and 31 seconds of daylight. That means it is light enough to be outside at 5am and at 10pm. Sunset is at 9:12 tonight. But the light doesn't just disappear like it does in California - it lingers and falls like a soft sheet.
I've spent several solstices in France. On one trip back in the early 90's, we discovered the Fête de la Musique. We knew something was up when we saw the huge stages and sound systems go up along the Seine while we were in Paris. In our broken French we were able to discover that all over France they would be celebrating the solstice with music. On the solstice night, we were in Tours. It was a great festival. Street musicians and bands all over the old city that played on into the wee hours of the morning.
But my most memorable solstice was spent in the mid-90's. My company had an office in Holland and I had the opportunity to work for 6 weeks in the spring of 1996. I finished up early in June and we vacationed in France. We spent a few days in Paris and then moved on to the Alpes-Maritime region around Nice and eventually to Corsica. We were in Calvi during the solstice. We rented an apartment just outside of town but not far from the beach. Late in the evening, we walked through the pine trees to the beach. The sky glowed red to orange as we walked into the surf. We treaded water as the sun went down and the warm breeze brushed our faces. Cradled in my husband's arms, we bid adieu to spring.