White nights & midnight sun…..

We’re just past the Solstice, almost unbelievably the days will start to shorten now even though summer is just arriving. I know that technically it was on the 20th (I don’t remember the exact time) because it was a Leap Year but the 21st June always seems the right time to celebrate it.

In my memory, on childhood summer holidays in Scotland, it seems to have been been daylight until after 11pm. Eyes adapt to the darkling light; you can distinguish trees from people or cows from fallen trees. Sheep become luminous.

Journal prompt: Have you walked in the summer nights? Where did you go? What did you notice? Describe the experience or go and find out now – see how the familiar can become strange and new.

Last week I was in Alaska where I never saw it really darken – even though I kept the blackout curtains open and tried to stay awake.

On the aeroplane home the sun seemed to set as we took off at midnight, and rise again on the other side of the plane an hour later. This was my experience – not sure about the science.

Journal prompt: how does the length of the days (and nights) affect you? What do you do differently as a result?

I know this has a profound affect on those who live above the Arctic Circle, and on the way that life is lived – whether it is all daylight or all dark.

By the way, thanks for recommendations of reading for Alaska – I greatly enjoyed books by John McPhee and Verna Wallis as a result of your suggestions. I also recommend Alison Owings’ Indian voices: Listening to Native Americans for its chapter on the Yup’ik of Alaska.

And the bears I saw in Alaska looked just like the bears in my garden…….

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2 Comments

  1. It’s always great to follow at least bits of your life and travel and other adventures via your blog. Thank you. Your thoughts and prompts take me back to summer nights outside as a child, the lights and shadows, the smell and feel of summer lawns, giggling and hiding and coming together again with friends…

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  2. Jenny Alexander

     /  June 24, 2012

    I used to live in Shetland – the land of the simmer dim – and one of the things I loved about it was the summer light and the dark winter skies. Last year, I was on the boat on solstice night, which was magical. I camped for a fortnight and never once needed a torch.

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