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Something Wild Celebrates Solstice

Today is the last lengthening day of the year. Tomorrow - Summer Solstice - is the first full day of summer. Hooray! In that sense, today is the "end of the beginning" while tomorrow marks the "beginning of the end."

  My old friend called me annually right after summer Solstice just to remind me that days would soon be getting shorter. Then he'd ask if I had my cordwood ready for winter. How's that for upholding the Yankee gothic mindset?  "Could be worse" and "likely will be soon" in the very same breath! But lest you think our glass half empty, remember: the entire summer lies ahead.

For wildlife, June is "fat season." Abundant plant carbohydrates, insect protein and tasty small prey fuel the growth of feather, muscle, antler and bone. Plants and animals reach maximum growth during the northern solar maximum: our longest days of the year when the sun rides highest across the southern horizon.

This ancient formula, driven by seasonal abundance, reaches back to time before human memory. Today is a good time to pause to feel the Earth spin on its axis. Consider how a slightly-tilted Earth revolves 365 times annually - give or take - to roll back around to this solar apex when northern latitudes tilt most-directly toward our sun. We inhabit a planetary sunflower!

Celebrate Solstice with a small gesture of appreciation for plentitude or some ceremony of your own? Salute the sun! Anchor at this high tide line. Re-orient yourself to this milestone in the natural year. 

Naturalist Dave Anderson is Senior Director of Education for The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, where he has worked for over 30 years. He is responsible for the design and delivery of conservation-related outreach education programs including field trips, tours and presentations to Forest Society members, conservation partners, and the general public.

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