In some ways, it would be very easy to miss the solstice around here. It stays light all day. Sitting outside you could read a book without artificial light all night, even when the sun has technically "set". It can still be seen from the mountains, circling the sky, but because we're about 120 miles south of the arctic circle we don't officially have the sun all day. Just the light. And since it's been like this for weeks and will be for several more weeks, the solstice is really another day without darkness.
However, it is the solstice and that not only gives Fairbanksters (it should be "Fairbanksans", but I prefer Fairbanksters) a chance to celebrate, but it's also a symbol of our unique place in the world. How many people get to say they live in a place that never gets dark? How many people get to say they've been to a place like that on the solstice? It's an incredible time to be here. There were festivals downtown, and parties all weekend. (I went to the latter instead of the former.) Tonight our minor league baseball team, the Goldpanners, will play the world's only midnight baseball game without artificial lights. If we can get tickets, I'm going to try to persuade Shane to go despite my exhaustion. (Softball ran late last night--so tired!)
The summer solstice is a time to celebrate our light, but the winter solstice is more of a relief. That's the point when we get to cheer because we slowly start gaining back the daylight that was so rapidly lost. Because of the extreme light changes, there's a noticeable shift in how much daylight is gained or lost each day. It's very slow around the solstice itself before picking up speed until we're losing or gaining 6-7 minutes of daylight every day in the middle of the cycle.
But now is not the time to think of that. It's a time to be happy and to celebrate this magnificent land. The rest of summer will go by too quickly and I'm certain that by the time it gets dark again I'll be excited to glimpse my first star at the end of summer. (At the end of winter I try to appreciate the darkness, knowing that it will be gone soon enough.) By the time my wedding rolls around (just over 2 months away, how did that happen?!) the sun will be setting just after 9:00 and we'll have our beautiful, long sunsets. So there's much still to look forward to. The solstice is the official first day of summer, bringing with it all the accompanying joys. I plan on taking advantage of every one of them.