Phenology Journal: Solstice at W083 54, N39 48

Notes in the First Week of the Firefly Moon, in the Last Week of Early Summer, the Week of Solstice and the Longest Days of the Year, the First Week of the Sun in Cancer

The Firefly Moon, new on June 16, waxes throughout the remainder of the month, passing gentle apogee (its position farthest from Earth) and reaching its second quarter at 6:03 a.m. on June 24. Coming up out of Glen Helen (the forest preserve near my home) in the morning and setting in the evening over Dayton, this moon passes over Yellow Springs, the village where I live, in the afternoon.

These are the longest days of the year. The sun holds steady at its solstice declination of 23 degrees 26 minutes (and the day’s length remains virtually unchanged) between June 19 and 23. The exact midpoint of the solar year (summer solstice), the time at which the sun enters Cancer and appears to climb as high in the sky as it will ever go, occurs on the 21st at 11:38 p.m.

Always there is correspondence between earth and sky. A gnomon not only measures the position of the sun, but also of placement of the stars. It reflects, as well, the parallel blooming of plants and the activity of other living creatures. The passing moons and planets offer temporary, determinate edges for the broader, spinning synchronicity.

Through the moment of solstice, stars mark sun’s passage to the second half of the year: Hercules directly over the village, Cygnus and Lyra and Aquila – constellations of the Summer Triangle – to the east, the Corona Borealis and Arcturus and then Leo moving west, Scorpio due south, trailed by Sagittarius, preceded by Libra.

At the latitude and longitude of Yellow Springs (W083 54, N39 48) in these longest days of the year, the land displays the tilt of Earth with the new blossoms of heliopsis, daylilies, white sweet clover, lizard’s tail, trumpet creeper, Russian sage, black-eyed Susans, pale touch-me-nots, as well as with other increments and markers as uncountable as stars.

Held in this embracing inventory, all creatures are spun into the expanding universe, but hardly away from their home. They are literally grounded in the solstice mirror.

Bill Felker

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