By Sue KILPATRICK
“That beautiful season of summer,
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
And the landscape lay as if created in all the freshness of childhood.”
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Another school year has come and gone. Summer vacation began several days before the official start of summer. These two events are related by their close timing, but have little in common otherwise. One is scientific in nature and the other is filled with pure joy.
Tuesday, June 21 at 10:16 a.m. PST was the Summer Solstice or the first day of summer. Often this date has received a chilly reception courtesy of June Gloom. Quite the opposite was the case on Tuesday as temperatures reached into the 90s; summer was greeted with a very warm welcome. Besides heating things up a bit, the sun’s position has created a change in seasons. Solstice comes from Latin for “sun stands still.” For several days, the sun appears to stay in a fixed position in the noon-time sky as it reaches its most northern position directly over the Tropic of Cancer. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the longest day and the shortest night of the year occurs. From sunrise to sunset was 14 hours and 26 minutes! Now, with the season astronomically in place and school out several months of summer are upon us.
Growing up during summer in the foothills was like an artist with a fresh palette of paints and a blank canvas – the possibilities were endless. The first days were rather tame and the weather still foggy and cool. Summer school at Monte Vista offered everything from the basics to full-fledged fun in a setting that was reminiscent of school days in another century. Rows of connected wooden desks, inkwells included, intrigued the students who, like myself, usually attended the modern 1960s Valley View Elementary.
Just as temperatures began to heat up, classes were finished and whole days were now open for adventure. You could choose from a variety of activities – generally footwear optional, bare feet most common –with no sunscreen applied, just Coppertone and Sea & Ski suntan lotions. Bike helmets had not been invented and to stay hydrated required only a warm garden hose. Honestly, I don’t remember any serious health related problems other than the usual bee stings, sunburn and mosquito bites.
The days were planned by the kids with little influence from mom and dad. Swimming was at the top of the list. Besides selecting a pool, other considerations were finding a parent “to watch you” and waiting an hour after eating before going in the water – not sure why, (something about doubling over with cramps and drowning?). A more lenient parent might allow the dangling of feet in the shallow end!
Water logged and time for a change (including out of a wet swimsuit), you could wait for the Good Humor (ice cream man) truck, attend vacation Bible school, sell Kool Aid, catch lizards and ride bikes. An end to a perfect day was a night swim with the pool lights on!
This weekend should cool to the 70s with morning fog and lows around 60. With the warmer temperatures and crowded living conditions our baby birds have ventured away from their nest, but still return at night. Quite touching … as most of us can relate.
Enjoy the first days of summer!
Sue Kilpatrick is a Crescenta
Valley resident and Official Skywarn Spotter for the National Weather Service. Reach her at