By Bill Biddle
Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Ah, June is bustin’ out all over, all over the meadow and the hill. What mellifluous sound comes from just saying the word and savoring its sense The northern hemisphere springs to life with the high sun, the long days and melting snow in the high country. The flowers of June will appear in August when the snow disappears in mountainland.
Imagine, only six weeks of summer up there!
But our Methow summer is three months and then some. Summer starts early with the solstice on June 21st, which happens to be Father’s Day. Solstice celebrations are therefore in order with the longest day allowing plenty of time to rejoice in the rebirth of the earth. After the celebrations, summer will start in earnest.
June in the Methow Valley will be warm and dry for the most part. It will not be tranquil, however; thunderstorms with hail will bring some drama to the month toward the end. More information on those events in a few moments.
Perhaps the most spectacular event of the month will be the rising of the full moon during the three clear nights of the 6th, 7th and 8th. These moonrises will be a sensory delight. Try to catch the moon when it first appears over the eastern horizon on each of the evenings.
On the other side of the day, consider watching a sunrise on one of those three days. It, too, will give a spectacular show as the earth becomes bathed in solstice-month sunlight.
Andrew Marvel will help us with our sun seeking. In his poem, “To His Coy Mistress,” he concludes with these lines:
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball:
And tear our pleasures with rough strife,
Through the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.
After the first 10 days or so of the month, cumulus clouds will start to develop and thunderheads will tower over the valley to welcome the solstice on the 21st. Crash and bang, flashes of lightning – the valley will reverberate and be pelted by hail. Cold down-thrust winds will send even the crows into shelter.
But hot and dry will return toward the end of the month. Henry David Thoreau will help us out of June. His beans had been planted and now he needed to hoe them. Each day he worked in his garden or wrote in his journal. He concludes Walden with these lines: “Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”
The poet Gary Snyder gave a reading in Seattle last week in which he gave a warm nod to those lines. He read parts of Myths and Texts, with its conclusion, “The sun is but a morning star.” He then asked the large audience where that line came from. He got the answer from the Weatherwatch observer.
Post-solstice month July? Stay tuned!