The solstice is behind us and it is summer. Here in Rockland, Maine, at 44 degrees north latitude, the days are long. From sunrise to sunset is over 15 hours, and from dawn to dusk we enjoy over 18 hours of light.
On the solstice, June 21, the sun reached an altitude of 69 degrees. Now the decline has begun. By the end of August, the sun will rise only to 54 degrees above the horizon, and we will have three fewer hours of light. By then, though, we may be grateful for a few more hours of sleep.
The summer weather on the Maine coast is the envy of our sweltering neighbors to the south. On a typical day in July and August the temperature gets up only to 76 degrees Fahrenheit. At night it goes down to 58. The sun is shining nine hours per day, on average. There are pleasant southwesterly breezes in the afternoon, especially out on the water.
Northern New England has attracted tourists and rusticators for over a century, but it is those cool breezes, and beautiful Penobscot Bay, that make the Rockland area so especially attractive to summer visitors. Our little city, with its industrial past and character, has had a primarily year-round population, but our neighboring coastal towns double and triple in population in summer, and Rockland is their hub.
These summer residents visit our shops and restaurants. They participate in public and private events in Rockland venues. And the tourists are here.
Rockland is changing. The old industry is gone. The shops grow more numerous and more elegant, we have new upscale hotels, and an increasing number of summer residents even in our neighborhoods. Out on Main Street in summer we are greatly outnumbered.
For year-round residents, summer is a busy time. The kids are out of school. Business is booming. We must make hay while the sun shines. It is hard work, and it leaves us little time to enjoy the pleasures that bring our summer visitors. Still, we enjoy ourselves. Summer, despite its tribulations, is our most delightful time.
One of the delightful things about summer is that we become suddenly very popular. People are eager to come visit. And we are generally glad to see them. If they did not come, after all, we would be in trouble. If it were not for them, Rockland would likely be seeing the sad decay that has hit many of Maine’s interior cities and towns. Not only is the summer trade now the core of our economy, those summer visitors, and their children, having come to love our little paradise, increasingly choose to join us as year-round residents. Without them, not only our economy, but our population, would be in decline.
And now all of us year-rounders, new and old, must make hay indeed, for the end is near. In less than six months the sun will rise to only 22.5 degrees above the horizon, there will be only eleven hours from dawn to dusk, and nine hours from sunrise to sunset, and we will be lucky if it gets just a few degrees above freezing during the day.
That will be a better time for sitting indoors reading books, for deeper contemplation, and for those serious conversations that make the world go round. Now we are busy, hard at work, and at play.
Summertime, our work and our pleasure, will be the topic of this week’s conversation on Rockland Metro from 5 to 6 pm this Wednesday. To join the conversation via telephone call in to 596-0013. To come join us in the studio, email firstname.lastname@example.org