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In the Summertime

In to the Wind

June 25, 2013
By Mike Gilchrist , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

The super moon this week, and the anticlimactic reality of the event got me thinking again about summer. No, more than thinking-reminiscing-like the asparagus shooting towards the sky going to seed after a fruitful season, embracing the heat and humidity of summer after a persistently wet and chilly spring. My mind wanders, often back to my youth.

Many of my loyal readers will know that I was Iowa born and raised, but spent several years in Florida; twenty-four to be exact. I have spent most of my life in Iowa. That should give those with mathematical acuity an idea how old I am. Not that it matters anyway, since forty is the new fifty etc

I find it increasingly hard, the older I get to discern how old a person might be. When I was young, it was easy; there was under thirty and old people. To those viewing the world with such polarity, i.e. under thirty, I am old.

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What I was beginning to say before I got distracted, (Does that ever happen to you? I mean you start in on one subject and before you're finished other thoughts start flowing as if there was continuity?) is that having spent a lot of time in each place, I can, based on personal experience speak with a reasonable amount of authority about some differences between the two places. Upon reading this again, my high school English teachers would have called this a run-on sentence. But, once again I digress while digressing.

When my kids were young, I used to tell them about our summertime activities in Iowa. I told them how we used to have these huge neighborhood games of kick the can. Remember that? It was sort of like hide and seek with a reset button the can.

My mom used to tell us kids to be home by dark. To an Iowa kid playing kick the can on the summer solstice, June 21, that meant 10 p.m.. My kids were incredulous; it doesn't stay light that late. Well it doesn't, in Florida, but I assured them it did in Iowa

I was outside recently. It was the second week of June. It was 10:00. The western sky was still displaying the last vestiges of sunlight. If it had been an evening in my childhood, and I wasn't home yet, I'd be headed that way at a high rate of speed. I'd arrive home as the last glimmer of dusk remained in the western sky and plead my case to mom that I was in fact home before dark.

Now if her rule was to be home by sunset, a totally different set of rules would apply. However, youth is liable to use rationalization to stretch the rules to the limit. We did. I'll bet you did too.

It takes a bit of analysis to determine why the kids had a hard time believing my story about it still being light at 10:00. Their experiences would have them think otherwise. It never stayed light that long in Florida, summer or winter! But how can that be?

The Internet can be a wonderful reference if you learn how to use it. I was able to access the U.S. Naval Academy web site. At that site there is a nice online utility to determine times for sunrise and sunset for any location in the country.

Here is what I found out about sunrise and sunset times for Fort Myers, Florida, and Toledo, Iowa. On June 21, the sunrise time for Fort Myers is 6:35. For Toledo it is 5:35. Sunset is 8:24 in Fort Myers, while it is 8:49 in Toledo. Some simple figuring will show the day in Toledo is one hour and twenty-five minutes longer than the day in Fort Myers, at least on June 21.

How about that! Iowa has much longer days than the Sunshine State during June! The reason is based in science and has to do with the tilt of the earth as it travels around the sun.

The Earth's axis, a line extending from the Earth's north and south poles is tilted 23.5 degrees. Because of that tilt, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are tilted closer to the sun on June 21, which marks the beginning of our summer. On December 21, we in the Northern Hemisphere are tilted farther away from the sun, and that day is our shortest and marks the beginning of winter.

In everything, there is a give and take. Even though our days are longer in summer, they are considerably shorter in winter. Our Summer Solstice day is fifteen hours and nineteen minute long. Our Winter Solstice day is nine hours and seven minutes long.

The closer you get to the equator, the less difference there is day to day in the length of daylight. On the equator, day and night are always twelve hours long each.

In Fort Myers, the Summer Solstice day is thirteen hours and forty-six minutes long. Their Winter Solstice day is ten hours and twenty-eight minutes long.

While we enjoy longer days than them in summer, their Winter Solstice day is one hour and twenty-one minutes longer than ours, or roughly the reciprocal of the summer numbers.

So yes indeed, viewing the summer sky at dusk brings back many memories of my childhood. Actually, it takes very little to cause your weekly columnist to wax nostalgic these days. Maybe it's a sign of maturity. Maybe it's an unspoken desire to hearken back to those days of yore and relive, at least through memories, a kinder and gentler age.

Until next time-

You can read past columns by visiting and clicking on the "Local Columns" button.

In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2005 - 2013 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342



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