On the day of Summer Solstice, the Earth’s south pole is tilted towards the Sun. The Sun rises south of east, sets south of west and reaches 75 1/2° above the horizon at noon. This is, usually, the longest day of the year.
|Artist: Frey Micklethwait. Source: Museum Victoria|
It occurs just once a year in late December. Here in the south eastern part of Australia the day reaches its maximum of 14h 47m 21s. The actual solstice itself occurs at 1630 which is about the same time this post was published. This mean the inverse in the Northern Hemisphere who are celebrating their Winter Solstice and their shortest day of the year!
What does the Summer Solstice mean to me? Well it means that summer has really started in earnest, and it is about the latest time in the season that I can plant any vegetables. Any later and they usually do not make it to maturity unless we have a really warm autumn. It means less rainfall (usually) and that I have to start to use my water reserves in the rain water tanks to keep everything alive around the garden.
It also means that the evenings have more light due to the long days and daylight savings. Time that I can spend in the garden, pottering around and enjoying our bounty and time to talk to the chickens. We have been harvesting self seeded beetroot leaves and rainbow chard for salads, and are just about to get stuck into the garlic and onions that are now dry and ready to use. We have also been enjoying peaches for about two weeks now and the nectarines and apricots should be ready in the next week or two, if we can keep the birds off of them. Our first tomato for the season should not be very far away!
I feel the most grounded at this time of year as well. We have a simple lunch on Christmas Day, so there is not much to prepare for. I have lots of home made beverages ready to enjoy by the pool whilst I am on holidays over the next two weeks, and we are just going to wind down until we get itchy bums and need to start a new project. All external commitments are on hold until February 2012.
I get time to make cheese, read (in fact I just read 7 books in 21 days), relax, and enjoy time with my family.
What does the solstice mean to you?