Outside for the longest days of the year

As Simple as That - a column by Jonathan Riley

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier jriley@digbycourier.ca
Published on June 22, 2014

I get excited about the longest day of the year, about all that extra sunshine and daylight and time to be outside.

I can’t resist challenging myself to spend as much of that day outdoors as possible—watching the sunrise and sunset and experiencing every thing in between.

I can quote the numbers from the books: the longest day in Nova Scotia lasts 15 hours and 34 minutes.

But staying outside for the whole day is the only way to truly know how long that is.

Some people play golf for the day, some go to the beach, or the camp, some fish, some garden.

Whatever your thing is, I believe it is a day to be celebrate and enjoyed —a day to soak up all of the sunshine and warmth and wonder of a day outside.

This year I celebrated on Big Lake, just over the border in Annapolis County.

If you’re going to explore Big Lake (or Mulgrave and Fairbanks Lake), you need a long day.

And preferably a calm one.

We were disappointed to see the wind got up before us on the longest day – a nasty wind out of the northwest blowing right down the lake about 30 or 40 kilometres per hour when we woke up and increasing as the day warmed.

That’s the kind of wind where smart people stay home.

Still we thought we could poke around a little, staying in the lee of the islands and salvage the day.

The problem is, when you’re running with the wind, you don’t notice just how strong the wind is.

So naturally we ended up way down the southeastern end of the lake.

While we were there, we did a lot of exploring.

We did some looking around at the road I hiked in here on last February and found my campsite from that trip, we did some geocaching, watched a whole nest of ants vacate their home, did some bird watching, and then had lunch and a long rest on a sandy beach.

The wind was nasty and strong and hateful as we headed home. It was a workout for the bowman to keep the boat moving ahead, and for the steersman to keep the boat heading the right way.

We stopped behind every island to bail and breathe. We nudged up to every sheltering point of land and took a deep breath before heading back out into the wind.

“You set? Here we go.”

Hours later, we made it back to camp, played out but happy.

Happy because we knew we could not have wrung anymore experience, any more living out of that day.

Rudyard Kipling wrote about filling “the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.”

We had done that, for every minute of the longest day of the year—and that is something to be happy about.

On a final note, it’s important to realize, the days are still very long and will be for a few months yet.

On July 21, the days will still be longer than 15 hours.

Enjoy it while it lasts, as much of it as you can.