Rocky Mount’s Summer Solstice – Marking the Day

Today, Friday, June 21, our longest day and shortest night of the year, the sun brightened our skies on the first day of astronomical summer in Earth’s Northern Hemisphere. As I write this at 5:22 in the afternoon, the sky is an amazing Carolina blue color.  The sun remains strong and there is a lovely breeze. It is the kind of day one would think should be marked as extra special, crossing another threshold into the next summer of our lives.

My guess is we all got on with our schedules without a flashback to bare feet, shorts and tee shirts, even bruised knees, already brown as berries. A summer that stretched before us with ice cream cones and a pile of books from the library. Our bikes raring to go each morning waiting for the day’s adventure. In my case, the background of the days seemed full of Cubs Baseball with Jack Brickhouse providing the running commentary.

In the earliest days, there was running under the sprinkler stripped down to underwear and later a swim in the pool or even better, sitting on the sand at Lake Michigan, smothered in a mixture of baby oil and iodine, for which my skin pays the price today. All of us with our memories of family and hot days with no air conditioning, open windows at night with bugs hitting the screens. And waiting – – for the 4th of July with grand fireworks at Northwestern University’s Dyke Stadium.

I have this feeling that as we begin real summer, trying to eat enough corn on the cob and watermelon, appreciating the smell of meat sizzling on the grill, it is as important a summer as there has been in a long time. The new Rocky Mount has arrived and like new plants in the garden, it needs looking after. We have an October election that gives us a voice according to our desires. We have new businesses opening, restoration/preservation taking place. Support these places, keep your eye on meetings that you need to get to in order to plant your flag for positive change. You catch my drift.

As the evening quiets down, and the last birds swoop across the sky, and the first day of summer begins to retreat, we have much to be thankful for. The return of a lost soldier, the neighbor across the street that puts your paper on the doorstep, friends who are the wind beneath our sails, and family, for better or worse, that God arranged. And for the possibilities in our lives, especially the possibility of this new Rocky Mount on a summer solstice evening.

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10 thoughts on “Rocky Mount’s Summer Solstice – Marking the Day

  1. Summers for kids like me were spent riding bikes around the block or to the “corner store” to get a coke and lounge on the park benches across the street. On most days the standard was a dip in a friend’s pool. Back on our bikes to find adventure. I was also lucky enough to go to summer camp each year where I shared a cabin with 7 other boys for 3 weeks. It was a wonderful thing to look forward to when the school year seemed endless and the homework piled up. The 8 of us grew up over the many summers we spent together—I remember that time fondly. I don’t think kids do that now which is sad—it taught us so much about navigating life and building friendships.

    If I must pick a favorite summer smell, I would pick the fragrance of my grandmother LaVerta’s kitchen when the berries were ripe, and she had big baskets of them all over the counters. Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, currents, blueberries, and loads of other fruit from which she made jams and jellies. The smell stays with me to this day. I can still see her filling all the glass jars, carefully applying the beautiful and fanciful labels she had spent the winter making—she would say “Roddy each jar will be a taste of summer when the snow flies and it is cold—too cold”. Generally, she had big band music blaring in the background (her HiFi seemed to hold an endless stack of records). I adored this time of summer as a kid for LaVerta had a fabulous voice and she sang along and wiggled in time with the music as her hands, as if by their own direction, processed the fruit, stirred this and that, added sugar and on and on.

    Finally exhausted from the heat of the stove, the canning and wiggling she would say “Roddy, come sit with me and tell me all about the book you have been reading—and how far you are on your summer reading list—summer is fleeting.”

    I knew she was right of course—and I still hear that voice saying those words when August comes along.

    What a summer!


    1. You have here a beautifully written reflection on summer and your grandmother. Thank you for sharing it with us. This powerful ability to remember the details of a scene like you describe, that take place in all our lives one way or another, is amazing. The young boy, Roddy and his grandmother, forever.


  2. Stepheny,

    I didn’t think about it at the time, but perhaps, you, Mary, and I started the Solstice celebration with our long lunch yesterday.

    I can say, “Me too!” to summers (with the exception of rooting for the cubs and cooling off in Lake Michigan).

    As a youngster, a summer day stretched on forever. We had sooo much to do! Ride the train and carousal at Sunset Park. Swim at the City pool. Go fishing with a cane pole. And, eat a picnic lunch of fried chicken, deviled eggs, and apple pie.


    1. Summer playing with friends, great memories, and yesterday was a lovely way to start a new summer. However, I’m glad we didn’t ride our bikes to see the overgrown Bunn cemetery but that Mary had her drivers license and could drive. How about having that picnic lunch of yours before the summer is over?


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