My Four Summertimes

I enjoyed the cloud reflections on the smooth-as-glass lake as we paddled around on my birthday.  5/16/2021
Summer starts this week.  "Officially" that is.

Rocky Mountain National Park  9/5/2022
For me, summer began the first week of May this year--well before it begins for most folks*.  Final exams wrapped up at the college on April 28th and the library transitioned to our shorter summer hours.  No nights, no weekends and the campus really quiets down--aside from the charmingly boisterous school children attending our summer camps.  I sure dig living on the academic calendar. 

Breakfast burritos on the patio.  Matt was rather successfully attempting to mimic the dank, savory deliciousness at Veera Doughnuts.  6/11/2023

 The summer season dictated by the academic calendar is only one of my summers though.  

 A night out at the ballpark.  6/21/2022

Two of my summers are pretty straightforward and shared universally--whether people know it or not.  That would be Astronomical Summer and Meteorological Summer.  Then there are two more that, while not unique to me, are not necessarily shared by all.  Those would be Academic Summer and Summer Tour Season.

Our wedding day. Photo credit to Jenny Lynn Photography.  6/21/2014 

Matt and I were married on the Summer Solstice.  For most people, this is the "official" start of summer.  On the calendar, this date is usually clearly denoted as "the first day of summer." But I never really got that.  It didn't feel quite right, at least where I live.  Summer is well underway by June 21. May feels pretty darn summery to me weather-wise.  (Though is has been notably cool and rainy this year.)  Coupled with the academic calendar it felt too late to be just starting summer on June 21-ish.

6/17/2022 Phil and Friends (photo credit unknown)

Of course, the Summer Solstice marks the start of "astronomical summer," and that's just one way of framing summerdom.  

A White-lined Sphinx caterpillar that Matt found while weeding one of our flower bed beds.  6/11/2023

For years, I've been spreading the word about this idea (that I believe came from Bernd Heinrich's wonderful books Winter World and Summer World) that a better way to conceptualize the equinoxes/solstices is that they're more the ramping up to or even height of the season rather than the start of the season.  That made more sense to me.  As I said, summer feels well underway here by late June.  Same with Winter in December and so on.  It felt more appropriate to categorize these astronomical milestones as nearing the zenith of the season.  Not the start of it.

Burgers, peppers, and onions all hot and tasty off the grill.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!  5/29/2023

Then I learned about "meteorological summer."  For where I live that makes summer run from June 1 through August 31.  While not exactly the same--May is still springtime in this framework--it feels more in synch with my lived experience than the astronomical summer.  I was glad to learn about this alternate and slightly shifted seasonal classification.  

A pretty glorious sky view from the backyard.  6/29/2022

So, I was talking about this with Matt--realizing there were three ways I can interpret summer--and he added yet another layer of summerdom.  There is also summer tour season.  An abundance of music festivals, outdoor/seasonal venues, and bands are kicking off their summer seasons right now.   For example, Dead and Co. launched their summer tour with a performance in LA on May 19th.  We'll catch up with them in July as they near the end of the tour.  Music schedules are deeply linked with summer for us and are a huge part of our summertime fun!  From the free downtown events to bigger music festivals in the woods.

Matt cooling off with a Moscow Mule and a dip in our little inflatable pool.  6/27/2021

So make that four ways I can interpret and frame summer.  It seems to illustrate how life is what one makes of it and that perspective certainly shapes the lived reality.

The Kitchen Dwellers performing at Pine Creek Lodge near Livingston.  6/2/2022

Happy Solstice, all.

A refreshing daiquiri made with fresh, homegrown strawberries.  6/12/2023

*I might enjoy that my summer started nice and early this year.  The downside of that is that it also ends early, too.  Alas.  Our fall semester starts on August 14th this year.  That is so terribly early!!!  Irregularly so!  More than a month before the fall equinox, I might add.  I'm not looking forward to it.  I quite prefer when our start date is closer to Labor Day, but pros and cons to all things.  


  1. Yes, mid August is early. Do as Laurie says and enjoy your summer! But I agree with you. I took this week off, because I LOVE these longest days, and I'm going to celebrate on Wednesday (Happy Anniversary!) somehow, and again on Thurs night/Friday, MidSummer's Eve and Day. But I have many times wondered: if summer starts on June 21st, how can it be mid summer two or three days later? Doesn't anyone else wonder about that? Of course, Mid-Summer's is from the middle ages, isn't it? So obviously, they started summer earlier than we do now (as you do! smart girl) Anyway, I saw two fireflies last night, so they're coming!!
    Your wedding photo is so beautiful, Beth. You both look wonderful. Is that gray stone building a church? It just adds to the whole feeling of timelessness.
    There was a local weather guy on the radio a while back who always mentioned, when the seasons changed, about the meteorological seasons. My big problem is March - it never feels anything like spring on March 1st, and probably never will. So, we're gypped out of a spring month. :D

    1. Your observation on midsummer's date vs the solstice is another swell ripple in my musing on the seasons here. Very good. I appreciate your thoughts on it, esepecially since I suspect it geographical location really makes it "personal" so to speak. I sure think it is interesting. This year I would say May felt like summer (temps already in the 80s) and June has felt like spring (it has been tremendously cool and rainy and even snowed/frosted this weekend at the higher elevations). What a wild ride, eh!??!

      Thank you for the compliments on the wedding photos. It was such a happy day and I think that really shines through. The building in the background is the music hall on campus. Almost all of our buildings were constructed from local stone--much of which was harvested from the quarry by students in exhange for waived tutition!

    2. Our college also has used local stones to build most buildings. Maybe it was a common thing?

  2. OH yes! Summer is not a linear thing! Well, it is in some states or countries, but not up here! I guess we have many meteo things in common!
    There is the growth of the leaves in the trees...
    the flowers that suddenly appears...
    the end of school (i'm on a school schedule too) ...
    the solstice (i loooooooove the solstices!)...
    the many festivals ( i attended 2 this last week-end. yeah!!!)
    Summer is a big thing when you live in a northern country!

    p.s. the cloud reflexions on the lake is pure magic!!!!!
    p.s. 2 your burger looks amazing!
    p.s. 3 your wedding picture is adorable!


    1. :) Thanks so much Éphée!!

      You are SO right. Summer *IS* a big thing when you live in a northern country! For sure! Have fun seizing the day for all the summer fun from flowers to festivals and beyond.

      Thanks for your compliments on the photos, too. Much appreciated. Have a wonderful day!

  3. Your campus description sounds like here :): Our library also has summer hours (twice a week) and summer camps during the summer, but no students. And my husband also believes that summer starts much earlier, about the beginning of June and not when it officially starts. I always thought that it is hard to believe that the days are getting shorter once summer starts.

    That is a lovely wedding picture :). And the sky is gorgeous! Happy summer!

    1. Academic life is so seasonal and I truly love that. Thanks for your kind words and happy summer to you, too! I hope you enjoy Summer World.

    2. P.S. I tried to send a link to a similar caterpillar on my blog. I guess it did not get through.

  4. And thanks for the book links. I just put a hold on the book "Summer World."

  5. And we had a similar caterpillar coming into our house many years ago. Here is my picture of it.

    1. Yes indeed! They sure look like caterpillar cousins! Which I guess they are if they're both sphinx moths.

      (I moderate my comments and usually get emails to alert me when there are some to approve...I didn't get one for this one comment though, hence the delay.)

    2. No problem about the late reply. I find these huge caterpillars fascinating.

  6. I'm with you on meteorological summer that makes more sense to me and those books by Bernd Heinrich look very interesting, the front cover of the winter book is just delightful - I'll have to see if they are available in our local library. Belated Anniversary Blessings and yay for summer tours, that sounds right up my street! San xx


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