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EDITORIAL: ‘Ah, summer’

“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.”
-- Russell Baker

Russell Baker, a Loudoun native son who at age 90 remains a muse for aspiring writers and journalists, understands the Virginia summer. It arrived this week with humidity, storms and no shortage of uncertainty.

As the unsettling undertones of current events added to our discomfort, we were given a sign. Those who looked up at the sky June 20 saw what's called the "strawberry moon," the nickname for June's full moon, which happens to coincide this year with the summer solstice.

And so we were reminded that rare events happen all the time.

Solstice, the official start of summer, was the longest day of the year. It’s the time of year that so many kids (and adults) await.

The summer solstice officially arrived at 6:34 p.m. EDT June 20. Its arrival with the strawberry moon -- a rare occurrence that won’t be repeated until 2062 -- was first recorded by the Algonkian tribes who occupied the land along the Potomac River in what is now Loudoun County.

According to "The Old Farmer's Almanac," the strawberry moon was given that name by the Algonquins because it occurs at the height of the season when strawberries are harvested.

For summer stargazers, June 20 was the first chance to see a full moon on the summer solstice in nearly half a century. According to AccuWeather.com, the last time these two phenomena coincided was in 1967 -- the so-called “summer of love,” for those of us old enough to remember Woodstock.

A new generation has created its own way to appreciate the strawberry moon. The Farmer's Almanac and the Slooh network of robotic telescopes teamed up to present a livestream of the full moon from landmarks throughout the world, including Stonehenge where links to many ancient cultural practices and different cultures are celebrated.

We think the arrival of the summer solstice with the strawberry moon presents the perfect moment to rediscover our culture and our natural assets. In this week’s GoLoCo section in our print edition, we offer 10 ways to enjoy 10 weeks of summer in Loudoun.

For those still conflicted over what to do this summer, we recommend reading a good book. Try “Growing Up,” Baker’s 1982 memoir about his childhood in Morrisonville, a hamlet in northwestern Loudoun. In the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, the Leesburg resident shares lyrical memories of the quiet country crossroads that he called “the center of my universe in the days of my innocence.”

Baker wrote that Morrisonville was “a delightful place to spend a childhood,” even though “almost nothing of consequence happened there.”

His assessment of Morrisonville remains accurate. Nothing much happens there. It’s the rest of Loudoun that races toward something else.

With the solstice upon us and the moon aglow, Morrisonville should be revisited innocently. Take your time growing up with Russell Baker. Savor the solstice by the light of the moon.

Ah, summer. The rest can wait.


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