MY FIRST EXPERIENCE with a Summer Solstice celebration was my first summer in Alaska in 1999. As a young man just out of college and open to a wide breadth of experiences my first three solstice events were embraced with vigor. In the spirit of celebration there were always wonderful culinary creations, libations, with many planned - and unplanned! - antics that would occur during these events.
Although I’ve not been to every state during a solstice, I still feel confident in stating that Alaska is one of the top locations in the United States to be for Summer Solstice, even though I haven’t officially celebrated it since becoming a father.
Camping in the front yard - a common activity among busy Alaskan families
This bums me out because I know of the zest that I once had for this day of the year and the endless opportunities for celebration . After last year’s solstice arrived and went without any fanfare in our family I made a commitment with my partner that this year we would find a way to celebrate the longest day of the year in a memorable way. We had two objectives: 1) relive feelings of past celebrations and excitement, and 2) began to instill this event as a need to celebrate in the lives of our boys.
My motivation has been thwarted by this unseasonal gray and cool weather that has been present so far in this season of late spring and our neverending family schedule. Along with my motivation being washed away there is the persistent fear that is shared by many people in our town: “Are we going to have any summer and if not how am I going to survive?” I am not alone in this funk.
(Right now, I feel fortunate that my sons do not have the ability to read my blogs because my partner and I have been putting-on our happy-we-can-do-it-no-matter-what-the-weather-brings personas in front of them.)
Dad must really like gray weather, he seems so happy!
Speaking of powering through despite unfavorable weather: This past Father’s Day one of my partner’s gifts to me was the set up and take down of our tent in the yard so our firstborn and I could have a campout. My initial response was: “Seriously, look at the weather!” This was met with a firm: “It is summer and we can’t let this weather stop us.” She was right and we had a fun event and stayed dry.
At least there's sunshine inside the tent!
The longer we live in Alaska the less I feel like celebrating the event that signals diminishing light. This year we will be very lucky to see the clouds go somewhere else and be able to experience the full duration of sunlight on solstice. But I still feel like we are missing something by not celebrating this year. Again my best intentions have been road blocked. Ah well, this is the reality of parenthood, frequent detours.
Happy Solstice Alaska and I sincerely hope you have the time and motivation to celebrate. We will next year.