This year, I celebrated the summer solstice as I did when I was young – by staying outside and watching the longest day of the year slip into the shortest night. As a child who grew up in the era of unsupervised play and limitations, “you can stay outside until it gets dark,” the longest day of the year was truly something to celebrate, since it was also the longest play day. Mosquitoes aside, and play days long past, I still find the shift of day to night in the summer to be nothing short of magical. Henry James may have felt that “summer afternoon” were the two most beautiful words, but I would have to include “summer evening” as being equally noteworthy.
The welcoming cool that accompanies the setting sun signals the start of the day’s transition. The sky becomes a canvas of stunning color, with grand sweeps of smoky purple, brilliant rose, and incandescent apricot set against a marine blue backdrop. Fitting for a season that is the very essence of languor, even the evening seems to take its time coming in the summer. Slowly, fireflies ignite their lightshow; one lights up at one corner of the yard, another responds from a distant space, and soon the backyard is twinkling with golden dots of luminescence floating effortlessly through the air.
I’ve always loved the glimmer of fireflies, much as I do the brilliance of fireworks, another summertime evening staple. I know I’m not alone in enjoying these delights, and have had many a discussion with people exploring why we find things that sparkle in the night so inviting. The best explanation I was given is that a glint of light in the dark reminds us of the existence of a greater light (the sun) that is always present, but not necessarily seen. Taken literally or metaphorically, this theory has always resonated with me, adding yet another wonderful dimension to the magical beauty of a summer evening.
At the core of my fondness for a summer evening is the sense of additional time that seems to be infused into that time. It’s like a special little gift that comes with summer – a sense of time being both longer and slower, allowing me the opportunity to appreciate the day, the season and other good things in my life. And yet the summer itself always seems to move so swiftly. One of life’s paradoxes, and another reminder to savor the loveliness of summer while it’s here.
Morning, day, or evening? Which is your favorite time of day in summer and why?
Article by LYDIA GNAU
Illustration courtesy of ASHLEY SMITH
Ashley Smith is a freelance children's illustrator and graphic designer based out of that Salty City in Utah. A hippy at heart, this girl likes to get outside and explore, which generally involves getting her hands and feet a little dirty. Since receiving her formal education from Brigham Young University Idaho with a BFA in illustration she has worked up a storm creating illustrations for books, magazines, and games. She can also be found deep in the recesses of small businesses, creating logos and branding for their new companies. She typically draws and paints though, and relishes in anything drawn and painted. She is the #1 illustrator recommended by gypsies, and a close #2 by pirates.
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