The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.
The first thing you need to know about me is that I have stayed up all night exactly one time ever: summer 2021, over my 100-mile run attempt. Otherwise, I am in bed and sleeping, preferably no later than 10 p.m., even more preferably by 9. This is just who I am. It’s who I’ve been since I can remember. There’s no changing it now.
So that means to me this idea of the midnight sun in Alaska is more of a concept or fact than it is a practical reality. I know that it happens. I absolutely love that it’s light out both when I go to bed and when I get up. I love that there are literally several months in a row that I do not witness darkness. I dont turn on the lights in my kitchen in the morning when I get up at 4 a.m. and pour my coffee before my work day. It’s spectacular.
When I say I celebrate summer solstice and the longest day of the year, I am not staying out to witness the midnight sun. I am not going on midnight hikes or doing midnight yoga or having a midnight snack under a midnight sun glow. But I celebrate in my own way.
Typically I record these podcast episodes a few days before they air for you when they drop on Tuesday mornings. But I am recording this one a little earlier, days before the summer solstice on June 21. Why? Because how I celebrate summer solstice is by having a good adventure that does not include being in my podcast closet to record this episode.
Ill tell you about my adventure later, I’m sure. But what I want to talk about now is about how I’ve learned to appreciate solstice — but winter and summer — and why it matters.
It’s all about rhythms.
Before I started regular outdoor time back in 2017 I didnt care at all about nature rhythms beyond that they meant I would be inconvenienced by cold or happily warm in turns. That’s it. Today I have started to view them as part of the broader the rhythms of my life.
And they are marked and guided broadly by light, how it comes and goes over time and why that matters. To me, the solstice is the celebration, acknowledgement and gratitude for how that pattern impacts my life.
I dont know — maybe this appreciation for time and how I relate to it is part of being older. But I think it’s also a lesson brought by living somewhere where light changes so dramatically over the year that when you shed the crutch of your shelter and artificial light and head outside you cannot help but experience its impact.
Summer solstice marks the longest day of the year, and in the months that proceed it and those few that follow it until about September, I can my daily rhythms stretch with energy and an eagerness to experience and expand into all of the outdoor spaces. It’s a rhythm of growth, and life and exploration. As the light fades, the days moving towards December’s winter solstice and in the months where it creeps slowly back just following it, until march when it’s noticeably lighter longer, I feel myself calm and quiet, resting and nurturing. In the summer my rhythm is to stretch and expand. In the winter my rhythm is to burrow and study.
Understanding and appreciating the solstice is about acknowledging the power of the light and the importance of its rhythms in your life and spirit.
May the light of this season give you hope, joy and adventure. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.