Over a week ago we passed the half-way point in the year, the Summer Solstice also called midsummer’s day on or around 21/22 June. It is a bit of a misnomer to call it Mid-Summer for as far as the weather is concerned the height of summer happens during the following two months. The term really applies to mark that position in the Earth’s orbit when due to its tilt the northern hemisphere is pointing more toward the Sun than at any other time in the year. It is around this same time (July) when the Earth is actually at its farthest from the Sun. The difference between the Aphelion (farthest) and Perihelion (closest) is about 3.1 million miles or 5 million Km but being that extra distance from the Sun has little effect on climatic conditions. Our weather is more dependent on events here on the planet, wind, closeness to seas and oceans or dry land, mountains and so on. It all depends where we live what sort of weather we have but it doesn’t stop people moaning about it nevertheless. At the moment (of writing) my local weather happens to be dull and overcast with a chance of rain in the offing but it is still mild and maybe a little cooler than of late. This is one of the reasons I like summer….
It is the proliferation of insect pests I find difficult to cope with at times. That is why I prefer the cooler months. I have been taking things easy these last couple of days both by choice and the fact that I haven’t been as well as I might. As it is summer I get less offers of work than at other times so I haven’t been too busy with electrical jobs though I have had some. It has been fortunate therefore that I have had something to do at home instead. There is always something to do at home isn’t there? I need to make the most of the warmer seasons though, it will be winter soon enough, it isn’t all that far away!
Today marks the time of the Summer Solstice, the point in the Earth’s annual orbit around the Sun when we in the Northern Hemisphere of our planet experience the longest daylight hours in the day. Naturally those living in the Southern Hemisphere will be experiencing their shortest number of daylight hours in the day. After today we begin once again to drift back to Winter and for those in the south, Summer. We mark time using our calendars but did you ever wonder how we ended up with the calendar, the months, the seasons, how in fact we measure time and for what purpose? We mark time because we need uniformity in our lives and to be able to conduct business and social engagements with each other. In our day-to-day routines we don’t necessarily need to have absolute accuracy in our time keeping but just enough to make things work. Below is an extract from a website dedicated to Calendars. The link to the site is shown below this extract. It is filled with some very interesting facts about our calendar…….
‘Our units of temporal measurement, from seconds on up to months, are so complicated, asymmetrical and disjunctive so as to make coherent mental reckoning in time all but impossible. Indeed, had some tyrannical god contrived to enslave our minds to time, to make it all but impossible for us to escape subjection to sodden routines and unpleasant surprises, he could hardly have done better than handing down our present system. It is like a set of trapezoidal building blocks, with no vertical or horizontal surfaces, like a language in which the simplest thought demands ornate constructions, useless particles and lengthy circumlocutions. Unlike the more successful patterns of language and science, which enable us to face experience boldly or at least level-headedly, our system of temporal calculation silently and persistently encourages our terror of time.
“It is as though architects had to measure length in feet, width in meters and height in ells; as though basic instruction manuals demanded a knowledge of five different languages. It is no wonder then that we often look into our own immediate past or future, last Tuesday or a week from Sunday, with feelings of helpless confusion.’
We are half-way through the year already, today being the Summer Solstice when the sun reaches the highest point in the sky in the northern hemisphere. On this day there are more daylight hours than any other day in the year after which they begin to get less reaching the minimum on or around December 21. It doesn’t seem that long ago it was New Year’s Day but I guess that’s an age thing! I remember as a young child that the days seemed to last far longer than they do now. Well obviously that cannot be due to the fact that the days were actually longer in those times but my conception of time and the passage of time has changed. As we get older we may often say to ourselves, ‘Just where has all the time gone?’ or ‘My, my, doesn’t time fly by quickly?’. Because we are so engrossed in whatever it is we are doing we don’t notice the passing of time. Life is short they say but 70 years is quite a long period of time. In the grand scheme of things though 70 years is really a tiny fraction, a mere blinking of the eye. Time itself is a difficult thing to understand. We measure the passage of time by the ticking of a clock and our lives are governed by the same thing but is time itself such a simple thing? How would we cope if we didn’t have such a thing as time to live by? The fact is, we couldn’t! Scientists talk about the bending of time and the stopping time by travelling faster than the speed of light. Does this mean we cease to function when time stops? All I know is one season follows on after another and life, short as it may be, is all we really have whilst we are in time but one day that will all change. Anyway we are half-way through the year already.
The comet showing in the last couple of frames just reminded me that a rather bright and large comet has recently been discovered and it looks like it’s headed our way sometime in 2013. Astronomers reckon it will be much more dramatic than those we normally encounter. Best places to see it are in the Northern Hemisphere for a change! If it turns out anything like it is predicted to do then it won’t just be a case of ‘suddenly I see’, you won’t be able to miss it!
In a little over three weeks it will be the beginning of Winter here in the northern hemisphere, that is the calendar version of Winter. On or about the 21st or 22nd of December marks the Winter Solstice when the sun reaches its lowest point in the sky at midday after which it begins to rise further northward with each passing day. The days begin to get longer as they say. Actually of course it is only the daylight hours which increase, probably the only consolation at a time in the year when the weather begins to get worse! I was at home a couple of days ago and the sun was shining directly upon the wall which faces the window. In three weeks time, if the sun is shining it will be shining half-way up the wall. A sobering thought to know that it will be months before the sun is high enough in the sky to be able once more to feel warm when out-of-doors. If I had a month in the calendar that I disliked the most it might be December I think. Apart from the month marking the start of Winter there are the festivals of Christmas and New Year and everything leading up to them, which I hate. At this time of year I am most certainly looking forward to January when everything gets back to normality for me. My favourite time of year is almost over but I have to say the latter part of it I am not a lover of, once my birthday has passed the weather just gets colder and miserable. I try not to let the weather get me feeling miserable though, in fact I enjoy going for walks in the cold weather provided I am well wrapped-up. Returning to the warmth of home and a hot drink makes it all worthwhile. It isn’t the same though when it is cold and raining too. This time of year is great when it is dry but when it is cold, windy and wet it makes me feel as though I want to remain indoors all nice and cozy. I don’t mind the cold or even the rain as long as it isn’t lashing it down but the wind I don’t like very much at all. I was talking about the run-up to Christmas as being traditionally a busy time for me at work and as it is turning out that way again this year I am finding I’ve little time to spend just going for walks whether the weather is fine or not. If the weather is not so good I am better off at work!
Well actually I am writing about the day before yesterday, Friday. It was the day of the Autumnal Equinox, that is the point on the Ecliptic, the Suns apparent path around the sky, where the daytime and night time hours are equal, hence Equi-nox. The other Equinox happens on 21st March, called the Vernal or Spring Equinox. Officially we in the northern hemisphere are now at the end of Summer and the start of Autumn but in regards to the weather we have been in Autumn for a few weeks! The air is noticeably cooler and fresher, just the way I like it. I can begin to wear my boots and long coats again. It is nice to wear lighter clothing during the warmer months too but we haven’t seen much warm weather this year. Today I am wearing a woolen top to keep myself warm and cosy. Outside, there is very little wind, clouds cover a hazy sun which shines through the gaps every so often, leaves cover the grass and all is hushed and still. I sit in the lounge but long to be outside on a walk. I am not feeling too well however, I have a few aches and pains just now so I am forced to stay indoors. There is always tomorrow, if I get to see it. Today is the time to live, today is the day for we do not know what tomorrow may bring. The seasons come and the seasons go and we would do well to remember that we do the same thing.
Soon people all over the world will be celebrating the New Year. I won’t be one of them. I have never celebrated New Year and when the millenium year was upon us I didn’t celebrate that either. It has always been a non-event for me and I never saw the reason why people enjoy it. To me, new years day is just another day and new years eve the day before. So people make merry, get drunk and supposedly have a great time. Snag with that is they seldom remember it! That’s not to say I don’t like parties per se, I do like to meet with people, have a few drinks and maybe some food because I like to socialise. I don’t like getting drunk for the sake of it or celebrating something I have no interest in whatsoever. The new year actually starts, if there be a starting point, on 22nd December as we pass through the winter solstice. The Earth passes through that point in its orbit around the sun where the sun appears at its highest point over the northern horizon in the southern hemisphere, their summer and the lowest point over the southern horizon in the northern hemisphere, their winter, our winter, my winter! From that day forward the days (daylight hours) get longer until the tables are once again turned at 21st June. January 1st is chosen for convenience as the start of the year. If we look at the biblical calendar it looks far different from the secular one. The new year starts at the first sighting of the new moon nearest to the Spring Equinox! Other religions have the new year at other times. So why celebrate December 31/January 1st? Just another excuse for self-indulgence methinks.