The Ottumwa Courier

June 23, 2012

A summer of daylight

Et Cetera

Ottumwa Courier

OTTUMWA — I’m writing this on my favorite day — the longest day of the year. It’s a day I look forward to for 364 days. I love daylight. I love summer. I love all the sunlight I can get.

Growing up, I never paid much attention to the annual solstice. The first day of spring was great; that one I looked forward to a lot. But the rest were ignored. Summer was summer, autumn was school and winter was snow.

It seemed like mid-summer was the best time, and I equated that with the month of July. Ah, mid-July would be mid-summer in my mind and the night the fairies came out to dance with the lightning bugs in the moonlight. For kids in a little town, we could dance barefoot in the dewy night grass, trying to grab those fireflies flickering in the moonlight. After supper during the long summer dusk, we’d play “Kick the Can” and “Hope To See A Ghost Tonight.” Growing older, I liked to ride my bicycle on all of our smooth, paved streets. No one worried about having a light on the bike. No one seemed to worry at all what the kids were doing.

Sometimes, my girlfriends and I would walk around town talking about everything, enjoying the summer breezes. We’d walk past all the houses, knowing everyone in town. On a hot summer night, some would be sitting on their front porches, watching the evening go by. Few, if any, had air conditioning, and all the doors and windows would be open. When we’d hear the news come on at 10 o’clock, we’d head to one of our porches to continue our deep discussions. By 11 o’clock, we knew we’d better go home.

People out walking today are doing it for exercise. There aren’t as many porches anymore for sitting. Patios are in the back yard. Windows and doors are closed to keep the heat outside.

It’s a cooler way to live, but not as social. Now, we may not know who lives next door or down the street.

But it’s still the longest day of the year today. And that means when you read this, the days have already started to get shorter.

I will not think about that. I will think about July and little fairies in the woods. I will succumb, once again, to the endless summer.

Judy Krieger is a retired Courier editor.