Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Spring Things - The House of the Midnight Sun

Late spring.  Almost summer.  Here in upstate New York, we are almost at our maximum day length.  Only two more minutes to go. In fact, in a couple of days, our sunrises will start getting later.

This is as good as it gets.  And I love spring in upstate NY, don't get me wrong.  Right now the roses are blooming along with lillies.  And after a spring rain, flowers can look lovely.  But, it does make me long for the midnight sun I have never seen.

(Rose after rain on the West Side of Binghamton, NY taken by Ramblin' with AM).

I have never seen the midnight sun.  For all I know (as I am a very nervous flyer) I never will, at least in person. Upstate New York is a long way from Iceland, or Norway, Antarctica or even Alaska.

If I had a bucket list, seeing the midnight sun would be on it.  Why?  Because light at midnight breaks a basic rule of my life.  I grew up in New York City, and have lived in Florida, in Iowa, in Kansas, in Arkansas, and, for the past 25 plus years, upstate New York.

In all of those places, the sun rises every day.  It travels up in the sky.  Then it goes down and sets.  Then there is dark.  Repeat, 365 days a year.  It's one of those basic rules.  If the rule breaks, you become scared in a primeval way.  The world isn't right.  Just like, if you looked up at the dark sky, and the stars were all in places they didn't belong.


But the sunrise/sunset daily cycle doesn't happen the same way everywhere, and I've known that, within me, since I was a little girl.  I think I knew it before I ever learned about "why" in elementary school science.  I knew there were places where the sun did not set during some of the year, and did not rise during some of the year.  Or, the sun did rise or set, but not enough to matter.

I've blogged about the midnight sun (or midnight dark) on many occasions, including a post one year ago today.

Ironically, I visited Alaska once - in September, 1988. So the day length was about the same there as in upstate NY.  The quality of the light was different.  It was - well, not just dimmer.  It was different. Dusk seemed to go on for hours.

And the flowers - the flowers!  Nasturtiums with blooms practically the size of dessert plates (OK, I exaggerate) tumbling out of planters in Juneau.  Glaciers with ice so blue that I bought a blue topaz just to remember the color.  (We also saw banana slugs and moss covered roofs, but we won't go there.) 

I would love to see the Midnight Sun baseball game in Fairbanks, AK.  You'd be surprised how many major leaguers played ball in Fairbanks before they went on to bigger and better things.  They all got to see the midnight sun.   Arrrghhh.....

Thanks to the Internet, I can visit webcams, and blogs, that talk about life in these parts of the world.    I can even read the blog of the Midnight Sun baseball game.  And, I can see a video of Tom Seaver, who would go on to everlasting major league baseball fame playing for the NY Mets, playing as an amateur in the 1965 Midnight Sun game.  In Fairbanks, the sun does set, but still, they play the game without artificial light.

Until I can see it, I will dream and write about it in my blog. Who knows, maybe the reality won't be as good as my imagination.  And I think - if I had months with just three or four hours of sunlight a day, how could I ever grow houseplants with natural light?

There is that.  The months of dark.

Do you have a bucket list?  What is on it?

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