y main beef with the longest day of the year is that all the days after it are shorter (and then shorter still), as if it, the greatest day, is being punished for taking up all that space, for spreading itself across the bed, leaving only a little corner for a vengeful night to curl up in.
As a reminder: our city is a sprawling concrete slab weighing down that whale tail that dips below the 49th parallel. Being further south here, we will receive one of the shorter longest-days amongst Canadians, which I can’t help but perceive as a slight, because some hotshot sun somewhere has it out for us—
Forget I said that… those are winter thoughts, some residual paranoia from the cold and dark days, which hadn’t fully washed off yet.
In Toronto, our summer solstice on June 21st will have just shy of 15 and a half hours of daylight. Six and a half hours more day than the shortest day of the year (which we’ve agreed not to think about right now, even though it’s basically around the corner, because after the daylight peaks, we immediately begin our descent, barreling back toward the yawning blackness of basicallyforevernight).
So I guess that’s why I’m just really trying to stay present or whatever. I’m setting an intention, or at least intending to set one, to feel gratitude for these long summer days to come, and even for the ones which I have already gratuitously wasted by forgetting to be grateful in time.
I’m getting stressed out, let’s change the subject:
I’ve lived in Toronto for 13 years and during that time I guess I accidentally internalized the city’s patterns, its topography and tilt, like for instance the gradual southward slope of its streets. I have learned to associate walking north with being slightly out of breath, and even though I know different cities pitch different ways, I often catch myself in a non-Toronto place, incorrectly assuming that I am walking north just because I happen to be going uphill.
Let’s change it again:
My girlfriend spent most of her life in a valley that dips between two stretches of the Andes, surrounded by layers of mountains that create tonal, greyblue waves on a hazy horizon. She feels best at higher elevations, understands the ground not as a level surface but a series of steep inclines, a venue for dramatic interruptions. As long as she is here in this flat city, she will miss the mountains the same way she misses her family; the same way people who grow up by the ocean are drawn back to it, if they ever try to move away.
We learn the landscapes, the weather of our homes the same way we learn the moods of our caregivers, for better or worse, mapping an individual, memorizing a phenomenon, to later find out that they are not — never were — the world.
It seems obvious enough that features of one place are not constants of all places. But still, to my girlfriend, horizons should be pleasantly obstructed; to my coastal friends, air should be a little salty; and to me, summer sunsets should be a delayed, stretched-out event, like a long pink pre-soak before the last light is rinsed from the sky.
I didn’t know that the way my girlfriend feels about mountains is the same way I feel about 9 p.m. sunsets, because I didn’t know (though, I guess I should have) that long days in summer were negotiable.
When I learned that the sun rises and sets around the same time every day near the equator I was like, Wait, what? My sun? It wouldn’t dare. What do you google if not the sunrise and set times each day?
In my girlfriend’s hometown, roughly two degrees north of the equator, the difference in daylight hours between the longest and shortest days of the year is less than 15 minutes. In Toronto (43 degrees N), it’s 6.5 hours.
Plus, sunsets last longer the farther away you are from the equator, which may make some kind of science sense but feels like… are you sure?
I’ve seen sunsets near the equator and I’m still not sure. They are beautiful, colourful, brief — a gentle snapping shut to the day. Not, as I’ve come to expect my sunsets to be, which is a leisurely stroll in a pink silk robe, down a long, reflective hallway.
Here, we don’t have an ocean, but we do have tides: people fleeing (physically or emotionally) in winter, and being drawn back in summer, reflooding the streets. One of the draws is how good it feels to stack up 15 hours of sunlight, and sit there on top of them, taller than all the other days.
Fifteen and a half hours days are so fucking good that I might spend mine in a state of dread and panic. I might feel disappointed for my future self, who has to wake up on June 22nd to a day that’s 15.5 hours minus a few seconds, a day that couldn’t possibly be as good as the one before it, because there will be less of it.