“Spring Quickly Jumps Into Summer”
The afternoon heat and almost daily downpours complete with thunder and lightning make us think we’re in the deep of summer. The truth is that Summer is just here — by the calendar anyway.
We have different ways of measuring summer or telling when it begins. School kids will say summer starts when the last school bell rings in May or June. Old-timers might say that summer really beings with eating the first ripe homegrown tomato.
On the calendar we note that summer officially rolled in yesterday June 21 at 12:38 P.M. EDT. June 21st marked the Summer Solstice or the beginning of Astronomical Summer.
What do the seasons have to do with the stars, you ask?
So-called astronomical seasons are based on the position of the Earth in relation to the equator and the tilt of the Earth. Although the exact dates may differ from year to year, the movement of our globe is predictable.
The Summer Solstice for the Northern Hemisphere marks the time when Earth is at the most northern point from the equator. (Summertime here happens in concert with Autumn for the Southern Hemisphere, and vice versa.)
This is the way that our forefathers told the seasons – by looking up at the heavens. Early peoples would look to the heavens to determine many things, like when the best crop planting and harvesting times were to be.
Our modern calendars say that summer arrives on June 21-22, but this year it feels like summer’s been here for weeks. Thus, a different way of noting the seasons is used by most of us who don’t rely on the stars for our daily bread. And that is temperature.
Seasonal calendars, based on the annual temperature cycle, might interest people who study weather (meteorologists), climate (climatologists), and even plant flowering (us!).
In the Northern Hemisphere the warmest three months are June, July and August, and we call that quarter of the year Summer. Winter, or the coldest three months, is made up of December, January and February.
At wildeherb.com we use the following calendar to represent the seasons, adding an early, middle or late qualifier:
January – middle Winter
February – late Winter
March – early Spring
April – middle Spring
May – late Spring
June – early Summer
July – middle Summer
August – late Summer
September – early Autumn
October – middle Autumn
November – late Autumn
December – early Winter
So, when we say we’ve seen Poison Hemlock blooming in late Spring to early Summer, you’ll know that means May to June.
By the way that rotten-smelling Poison Hemlock has been blooming white in the fence rows for a couple of weeks here in Central Pennsylvania.