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BONNIE'S GARDEN--The First Day of Summer

Yesterday was the longest day of the year—the Summer Solstice aka Midsummer’s Eve.  What did you do?  Were you one of the more than 25,000 people who gathered at Stonehenge?  Or were you one of the thousands of yoga aficionados who gathered around the world, from Johannesburg, South Africa to Time Square, New York, to celebrate the first International Yoga Day?  Or perhaps you partied in Scandinavia where Midsummer’s Eve is the greatest celebration of the year, comparable only to Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve?  Me?  Well, I celebrated with the quintessential summer sandwich—you know the one—white bread with a little mayo, salt and pepper, and slices of homegrown tomato.

Solstice comes from the Greek words “sol” meaning  “sun” and “sistere” meaning “to stop” since it appears as if the sun has temporarily stopped overhead.  The Summer Solstice occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer—such countries as Mexico, India, and Egypt.  On that day, the sun will not rise at all within Antarctica and will never set within the Arctic Circle.  The Summer Solstice is often called the Northern Solstice because on that day in the Southern Hemisphere it is their Winter Solstice.  Yesterday in Bolivia, Aymara Indians celebrated the Winter Solstice and the beginning of their year 5523.

To ancient man, the sun was the giver of life and marked the time of year when the fields were ripe with crops.  Ancient man marked his calendar by the sun—such monuments as Stonehenge and Externsteine in Northern Germany were erected to pinpoint the exact moment of sunrise on the Summer Solstice.  Now, we simply see it as the first day of summer.  Although it is the first day of astronomical summer, it is not the first day of meteorological summer.  Meteorologically, summer begins on June 1 and ends on September 1.

Now for a few bits of summer trivia.  The coolest July temperature in Richmond was 51 degrees on July 15, 1940, and on July 2 in 1965.   The highest temperature ever recorded in Richmond was 105.1 on July 26 of 2010.  The three hottest summers on record were July of 2011, with an average high of 94.3; July of 2012, with an average high of 94.4; and July of 2010; with an average high of 97.1.  (Do you find it a bit scary that the three hottest summers have been within the past five years--what were you saying about Global Warming?)  The hottest temperature ever recorded in the state of Virginia was 110 degrees on July 15, 1954, in Balcony Falls in Rockbridge County.

But it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity, you say.  Well, the average daily humidity in Richmond is70%, with daily highs and lows in humidity ranging from 50 to 83.  We are, on average, more humid than Roanoke, Lynchburg, Arlington, or even Norfolk!  In contrast, Phoenix, Arizona has an average humidity of 37%. 

What does Summer mean for me, the gardener?  Well, it means that I’m just beginning to appreciate the bounty of my summer garden.  I’ve gotten my first squash and cukes and enough green beans for several meals.  I’ve eaten handfuls of cherry tomatoes already and gotten ONE slicing tomato (promptly eaten yesterday, thank you!)  I’m beginning to keep an eye out for squash bug eggs about now and already rinsed a few aphids off my peppers. 

And it means that I only have a little over two months before I have to think about ripping out my summer garden to make room for my fall garden.  Golly, time moves awfully fast sometimes!
Posted: 6/22/2015 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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