|My Kiddos the 1st Day of School|
Like most busy parents sometimes my quietest time to meditate can be found in the bathroom and even that isn't a guarantee. Recently, I found myself pondering the beginning and end of summer as the Labor Day holiday approached. In the US we often mark the beginning and ending of summer as being between Memorial Day and after Labor Day. I began to wonder why this was, when according to the astronomical calendar summer doesn't officially start until the summer solstice (around June 21) and doesn't end until the autumnal equinox (around Sept. 22). I decided it was a conundrum that needed solving.
Having limited time to actually research this and not really having a real idea of where to begin I turned to Google. According to the Farmer's Almanac the dates for the four seasons revolve around the solstices and equinoxes and are determined by the amount of sunlight we receive which is determined by the orbit of our planet on its axis around the sun. But, this didn't really tell me why the US calendar seems to revolve around the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays.
Looking up when the holidays began to be observed was interesting but didn't shed any light on my problem. Asking friends didn't really help much either. One, posited that it was because of our swimming pools. It was a conspiracy they created to maximize their summer time hours. This didn't sound right to me, since in some places in the US it is warm enough for pools to stay open longer than Labor Day and in other areas it is cool enough that they could close sooner. Another person advised me that it was our school systems that began to dictate when our summer season started and began. While more plausible, not all states start and end around these holidays. Some states have year round school while others start earlier or end later than either holiday.
Finally, while watching the news the weatherman mentioned that summer had officially ended according to the meteorological calendar. This was the lead I'd been waiting for. Looking up the meteorological calendar led me to realize all the various factors that determine the beginning and ending of summer. The meteorological calendar bases the seasons on average temperature patterns and for the northern hemisphere encompasses the entire months of June, July, and August. The meteorological calendar starts and ends at the beginning and ending of a month. That made more sense with the US custom of marking the beginning and ending of summer around our annual festivals of Memorial Day at the end of May and Labor Day at the beginning of September. It turns out that our holidays jive well with the meteorologists, and the theory of summer being determined by the pool or school calendars didn't hold water. [Sorry couldn't resist] Thanks Mr. Weatherman!
What about you? Are there any conundrums you've wondered about but had no idea how to solve? Where is your best place to meditate?