June 21, 2003
The Beginning of Summer
Summer is here! In many years, June 21 marks the official start of summer. The event is marked by an astronomical event–the summer solstice, the longest day of the year (with the most daylight), which occurs when the sun is farthest from the earth’s equator. The season ends with the autumnal equinox (with day and night equal in length) on September 22 or 23.
What does summertime mean to you? A long vacation from school? Swimming and ice cream cones melting in the sun? On June 21 it’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere, but in the southern half of the globe, it’s the beginning of winter!
The concept of summer has often been associated with growth and maturity, especially when it comes to plant life. And indeed summer is the season of greatest plant growth in areas with healthy summer showers. For many farm workers, summer is a busy season filled with hard work under the hot sun. But summers on the farm also yield the special pleasures of the first ripe tomato, fresh corn on the cob, and sweet juicy peaches picked and eaten right from the tree. Festivals celebrating food are common this time of year. This is usually also a time for family vacations in the U.S., with trips to the seashore or a mountain lake and barbecues in the backyard. What are your favorite summer activities?
Everyone has a summer story. Songwriters have immortalized their summer experiences in numerous songs over the ages. In his song, “In the Good Old Summertime” (1902), lyricist Ren Shields declares:
There’s a time in each year that we always hold dear,
Good old summertime;
With the birds and the trees,
And the sweet-scented breezes,
Good old summertime.
Collaborators George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward said, “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” in the song from the opera Porgy and Bess. What songs of summer do you sing?