It is Midtsommer! The days are long and the nights aren't very dark either. The moon may have something to do with that. I was up at 4 this morning and didn't need to turn on any lights to see where I was going. Normally I don't get up quite that early, but hey! It's the weekend! My brain activated before my body was able to get out of bed and I made up for it with a nap later on. One of the dead giveaways for knowing it is midtsommer is my Swedish neighbor (and chiropractor when I need one) is celebrating. The Swedes really make it a major party time for everyone. One of the reasons given for the celebration is the birthday of John the Baptist, although I don't think the calendar was the same back then and I doubt there was a birth certificate involved. Sankthans is what it is sometimes referred to and means St. John. Of course it was a pagan celebration long before all that.
Scandinavians of all persuasions celebrate it on about the 23rd of June, Midtsommer eve. Correct me if I am wrong and I might be. It is right about the time of the summer solstice, not coincidentally, or sommersolverv in Norwegian. It is celebrated with lots of bonfires and sometimes they are big. I think I read that the record height for a bonfire in Norway was about 40 or 45 meters (132 to 148.5 feet) which is a damn big recreational fire.
Locally, at North House Folk School it is celebrated with a wooden boat show, puppets, storytelling, a dance, and a bunch of other activities. On the Home Page the guy in the picture at the upper right rowing is Mark. The whole thing (a folk school in northern Minnesota) was his idea and I was privileged to serve on the original board for the first 6 years or so, but I digress.
In an ideal world we should all (those of us in the Northern hemisphere anyway) take this time to get out and enjoy life. It is a great time for vacations and being outdoors. There are a few unfortunates that have to work even harder this time of year. Those of us in the building business and all those in the tourist business have to make hay while the sun shines and time off is a dream for a different season. Sometimes we still sneak away for a while anyway while the days are warm and long. I am lucky enough to have been far enough north at this time of year so that it almost gets dark before lighting up again. I think I need less sleep when in that latitude and can save my hibernating tendencies for winter.
If I really needed a summer culture fix there are a few interesting things going on locally, but I think I would head to Duluth, that cultural mecca of Northern Minnesota. I could take in a Lyric Opera of the North's production of Les Uncomfortables. It has been getting rave reviews. The Tall Ships are coming in August which would be awesome to see, too.
Here in Grand Marais we have the 26th annual Art Festival on the weekend of July 9th and 10th with over 70 local and regional artists. Sometimes the weather can play a major role in that, however, as it is outdoors. Fisherman's Picnic is a big deal in early August. There is a parade, fireworks, log rolling, fishburgers, softball tournament, contests, raffles, live music and my personal favorite, the fish toss. Four days of mayhem on the harbor.
The following weekend is the Pow-wow and Rendezvous Days at Grand Portage by the Canadian border. Even I have played music there for the Voyageur encampment.
I'm not mentioning all the other stuff that goes on, but there are foot races and bike races, museums and berry picking, and constant activities that aren't difficult to find. All this in the next six weeks or so.
It is a short and intense season and it is under way now.