Monday, June 21, 2010

The Longest Day of the Year

Magnet # 274: Olga Ulanova's Summer Solstice

Material: Plastic

Purchased By: Me

Once again, we've reached the Solstice, only this time those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are enjoying the Summer Solstice. And that, of course, also means that this is the first day of Summer. Yay - I love Summer! But this is looking to be a particularly hot one, which I guess goes along with the bitterly cold Winter we just had. I was hoping to have a break, but I guess that isn't going to happen. I think I've mentioned on here that I'm cold natured and hot temperatures that drive others nuts often don't affect me. In fact, just last week I attended a meeting in a room where most everyone but I was complaining about the heat. However, I took a trip earlier this month and spent alot of time outside, and it was miserably hot, even by my standards. So I'm just not sure what to make of the coming season, but I am very happy for all of the extra light that we'll be exposed to. Not only does it mean the days will seem to last longer, I also prefer to travel when there's plenty of light to help me on my journey. I limit my trips during Winter months when the light is scarce because it really does help to find a travel destination and I would hate to be broken down along the road at night. But when Summer comes around, the roads can be lit until around eight at night, and it's great to take advantage of that fact. Of course, many other drivers hit the road around this time of year, so there's more traffic, but it also means more museums and attractions are open longer. So if you've been meaning to get out and take a trip but haven't gotten around to it yet, this might be a great opportunity.

I've mentioned on here before of how important the Solstice was to ancient cultures and how they built structures that aligned with it, most notably Stonehenge. I don't want to reiterate much of that post, but I thought it might be fun to add a few more very old sites that are connected with the Solstice. First off, there was a cult of Sun worshippers who lived on the coast of what would become Peru that built an observatory at Chankillo. This was made up of 13 towers that aligned with the rising and setting of the Sun between Summer and Winter Solstice. Also, ancient Native Americans built a structure that is referred to as Woodhenge with large timbers marking the Solstices in present-day Illinois. Finally, the Egyptians created the Sphinx in a position that made it possible to watch the Sun set precisely due West between the Khufu and Khafre pyramids during the Solstice when standing at the monument. Again, these just continue to emphasize how important the Solstice was to ancient cultures. By comparison, we often celebrate it nowadays, but it isn't truly critical to our survival. But examples of the event can still be found in current times, like on the image featured on this magnet. I had never heard of the California artist, Olga Ulanova's, work before, but when I saw this on Ellen Million's website, I knew it was a great idea to get it, not only because it's such an attractive piece, but also because it would be easy to figure out when to post it on here. According to what the artist says at her website, http://www.east-27.com/index.htm, the figure in this image is the Midsummer Queen celebrating the start of a prosperous season. And you might want to give this picture a look there, as it has much clearer detail on her dress than I can show here, as well as other lovely images from the artist, like her companion piece to this one, Winter Solstice.

So those of you who, like myself, are lucky enough to be in the Northern Hemisphere today, consider taking advantage of all the sunshine we'll have to enjoy today. Take a late walk outside, drop by the beach, have dinner outside, or perhaps even attend an event to celebrate the Solstice. From here on out, it's less light for us and I guess it's best to soak it up while we've got plenty of it.

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