The Geography of Seasons
Summer is upon us here in Tucson where we are based. And when the temp gets to be over 110° F this old Editor/Publisher goes into siesta mode! But never fear, it hasn’t hit those scorching temperatures as yet this year, and we are still writing and putting out prompts.
Our local tradition dictates June as a time to pray for rain. While the temperatures skyrocket in our first version of Summer that has an arid realist quality which shifts into a wavering mirage as you squint against the glare of the piercingly vivid bright heat of a Sonoran Summer day, the hint of our second type of Summer rides on the winds.
A few clouds begin to appear in June. They build over the course of days, until finally they darken with the color that means they are growing heavy with moisture. Eventually an afternoon breeze carries a spicy scent of the creosote bush (totally unrelated to the petroleum product) that has been released on the wind when the first spotty rains picked up oils from the bushes’ leaves announce the presence of rain in some lucky distant spot. Finally the slow boil of dark clouds on the horizon by noon signals that the afternoon deluges brought by the Monsoon heralds the arrival of the tropical heat and moisture of the second type of Summer we experience here. The O’odham peoples, and their ancestors the Hohokam, used flood irrigation that collected and directed monsoon rains, run-off, and flood waters.
Does this month, or season, or seasonal weather connect with your emotions, childhood memories, or a sense of home or a place you love?
Florists and jewelers will use honeysuckle and roses, pearls, moonstones, and alexandrite in their ads to draw you in if have a June birthday or are purchasing gifts for a Gemini or Cancer person born this month.
Alexandrite is a chameleon-esque stone in which a single specimen can appear as two distinctly different colors dependent on the light in which it is viewed. Alexandrite is a rare chrysoberyl.
Is there an aspect of an astrological sign or an associated gemstone or flower that perfectly captures a person in your life born in June? I have known several Geminis who are quite dualistic. Of course I probably have known many who are not. I still love month, sign, birthstones, and flower associations even if they may be arbitrary.
I will most likely change the site landing page photo back to this photo by Jen Chillingsworth that reminds me of my Grandma and Mom. Pink rambling roses graced the summer driveway up to the farmhouse in which I grew up, and a wild and overgrown English garden is inseparable from memories of my Grandma. I believe my mother’s roses came from Grandma’s garden.
June is Midsummer, Midsummer is the Summer Solstice
The fields of Europe, the place from which the dominant North American culture came, are planted at this time of year. Fields of grain, fruit on trees, and garden vegetables are growing and ripening. The summer land is effectively pregnant and bringing forth life. No wonder that betrothals, marriages, and talk of fertility are common this time of year.
The Romans associated the month, obviously, with Juno, Goddess of Women and childbirth, but also associated with the month and women and childbirth was Lucina (derived from the word Lux, light). As the Solstice is the day of the year with the greatest amount of light, it makes sense via what we know of the worldview of the time to also associate the bringing of children from the dark of the womb into the light of the world as related.
Some contemporary writers, probably unconsciously, but possibly with religious motivations, say that the traditional use of Litha as a term for Summer is of totally modern use and origin. I have been able to find out by looking at translations of early English history that the term litha was used to describe the summer months as I noted in the June 2016 version of this post when talking about the English monk, theologian, and historian; known as the Venerable Bede, (Circa 673–735) wrote The Ecclesia.stical History of the English People (completed in 731), a primary source for early English history.
Litha is neither pagan nor heathen, but is used by English speakers and those who parse the year by seasons and note the longest day of the year with festivity, bon fires, and celebrations. Pan-european celebrations continue to this day and give testimony to the importance attributed the Summer Solstice by pre-Roman European cultures.
In Christian Northern Europe appointed clergy might only make the rounds to all parishes intermittently, perhaps 2 or 3 times a year. So betrothals and temporary marriages often preceded church sanctioned nuptials. Handfasting, the ribbon wrapping of the hands of the bride and groom, was sometimes done at weddings, but also at public, non-church, announcements of young lovers pledges to each other at which a fire might be jumped to seal the deal. Such fire occurred at both May Day and Summer Solstice. June weddings are age old.
Unpromised young women were advised to stare into the fires so that they might have visions of their future husbands.
Women of June
I’m including only a few of the amazing women with June birthdays who are well-deserving of a few moments of reflection on their lives. These and many more can be found at 30 Badass Women born in June.
June 1 1926 Marilyn Monroe ( Norma Jean Mortenson/ Norma Jean Baker), iconic film star. Image above.
June 7, 1917 (d. 2000) – Gwendolyn Brooks, first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1950)
June 12, 1929 (d. 1945) Anne Frank, German diarist, murdered in the Holocaust. Did you know that imaging tech has allowed transcription/imaging of two “new” pages of Anne’s diary.
June 15, 1916 (d, 1989) – Olga Erteszek, Polish immigrant, established the Olga Company in 1960, maker of women’s undergarments, one of the first companies to offer employee profit sharing.
June 28, 1946 (1989) – Gilda Radner, comedian, and original cast member of “Saturday Night Life”
June Events of Women
June 4, 1919 – The U.S. Senate passes the Women’s Suffrage bill.
June 14 1907 –Women in Norway win the right to vote.
June 18, 1873 –Susan B. Anthony is fined $100 for attempting to vote for president.
June 18, 1983 – Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.
June 19, 1963 – Soviet cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, becomes the first woman in space.
June 24, 1647 – Margaret Brent demands two votes from the Maryland Colonial Assembly: one as a landowner and one as the legal representative of the colony’s proprietor, Lord Baltimore. She is refused.
June 25, 1903 Marie Curie announces her discovery of radium. See our coverage of her from April 2018.
June 27, 1833 Prudence Crandall, a white woman, is arrested for conducting an academy for black women in Canterbury, Conn.
There was iconic music at the top of the charts 50 years ago in June 1968. But perhaps the most iconic tune that topped out the charts, and that most of can still whistle , was this one from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.