My parents settled in Florida pre-Disney, January 7, 1967 to escape the frigid winters of New England. I was only 3 and my sister Cindy was 2. The rest of my sisters are “native-born Floridians.” This “first” day of summer always marked the beginning of summer magic for me. I was always turning the swing set into a grand-sultan’s tent or attaching playing cards to the spokes of our bikes so they became rockets to the moon or turning dad’s visqueen tarp into a make-shift slip-n-slide “a mile long”. My imagination would run wild. There were scouting trips to the mountains and family camping at the beach in St. Augustine. Summer was always fun!
For the northern hemisphere this is the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. Those above the Arctic Circle will not see a sunset today! Due to Florida’s proximity to the Tropic of Cancer, our longest days actually start today. At this year’s equinox, when the 8:30 sunset becomes 8:31, Midsummer begins. Summer won’t peak until June 28th when the sunset happens at 8:32. The long days continue until July 11th when sunset returns again to 8:30. This means Midsummer lasts 21 days at this tropical latitude. No wonder hurricanes are our biggest threat. Three intense weeks of heat, melting our pavements, heating our cars to baking temperatures and drying up our plants until it rains so hard they get washed away.
Has the heat fried my brain these nearly 50 summers? Am I as ready as to leave this heat as my parents were the cold back in ’67? Those who first came to this land and named it Florida, what were they thinking? Mosquitoes, No-see-ums, sandspurs, fire ants, humidity, heat and intermittent torrential rains, it’s a wonder my parents stayed after those first few summers. Yet they did, even without an A/C until 1979. Apparently children from 3 to 16 can withstand tremendous weather adversity. Perhaps I need to find my inner Puck so that I can sing, dance and imagine again – turn this midsummer reality back into a dream.