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Musings on the longest day of the year

Today, the 21st June, is Midsummer’s Day when we recognise the Summer Solstice and the longest day of daylight in the northern hemisphere.

For me, Midsummer’s Day has often been a day that has been long awaited in the middle of winter when I crave daylight – and sunshine – more than ever. Now today we have daylight in abundance – the longest period of time between sunrise and sunset. I am thankful.

Newton Grange Farm

In the annual calendar of events, today is known as National Daylight Appreciation Day. I know I for one feel happiest the more that I can be outside. Especially when living in the countryside when the darkness on winter nights really is dark, the long daylight hours on summer evenings in contrast feel such as gift. A time to potter in the garden, to take a walk around the fields or to try out a new walking route. Perhaps time simply to catch up on jobs (inside or out) or if we are lucky, simply to sit outside with a good book and enjoy the light. Sometimes with daylight around you it just feels like you can do more than you might if it were dark, even if you don’t.

There is opportunity.

And perhaps, if you’re anything like me, you will have a slightly greater sense of motivation in the summer too. This is real. It is well known that daylight has positive psychological effects, it can help to increase energy levels, help in lowering depression and boosting your mental health. Spending time outdoors in the sunshine helps our bodies to make Vitamin D. This is beneficial to us.

But as we appreciate daylight we may need to make adjustments in our homes too. Perhaps some black out curtains for young early risers in the house – or to assist with children’s bedtimes that arrive well before nightfall. My favourite comment from my daughter a few weeks ago was:

‘Why is it bedtime Mummy when it’s still morning outside?’

So began my simplified description of the differences between summer and winter time.

Daylight and mornings do go together all year round, in our part of the northern hemisphere at least. The sun rises and a new light shines on us to begin the day. New daylight on a new day is an exciting prospect, in the rhythm of life. Perhaps this new day is the day that we will make changes in the here and now – and not leave things for ‘tomorrow’. For we know the old adage only too well - that tomorrow never comes.

I also find that the 21st of June is one of those days each year that stops me in my tracks, usually with an exclamation mark:

‘Gosh, Midsummer Day is here ALREADY!. I can’t believe we are nearly half way through the year’.

Just as we are nicely adjusting to the new pattern that the long daylight hours give us, the Solstice is here and the number of daylight hours starts to decrease each day. Thank goodness we don’t tend to notice it straightaway. I would love to ‘bottle’ this time of year – and when the daylight also comes with fine, sunny weather – I could not be happier.

So let us celebrate National Daylight Appreciation Day and all that it brings. Spend a little (or lot) of time outdoors, take a deep breath and really breathe.