A short version of the longest day

PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown

PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

Of all the birds in the forest, crows are the most likely to wake you up. Leave the window open on the morning of a summer solstice and they call from the tall dead tree. Don’t miss this! Don’t miss this!

This is the longest day of the year.

Some coffee drinkers might disagree, but there are really only a couple hours of proper coffee drinking each summer day. If you sleep in too late you miss most of it. As the humidity creeps up, the java’s heat emanates off the top in waves. No steam, because the air is already warm.

By the end of the second cup, the heat of the mug equals the outside. Close the windows now. Draw down the shades. You shouldn’t be inside today, but you’ll be grateful for this one maneuver hours from now, a distant future that somehow comes quick.

Water the plants now; won’t take long. The spray will do you good. If you have any other chores to do, ask yourself how many of them can be put off until September. Under no circumstance should you do anything that fits that description. You’ll have to consider if you should exercise today. Remember that sweating on the hemisphere’s longest day is a form of weight training, so long as you’re wearing clothes.

It might be a good idea to walk today. Before 10:30 is best. Be sure to say hello to the turtle on the road as it seeks a place to lay eggs. If there’s traffic, help it across. The turtle will pee all over you, but consider the situation. If a pregnant woman was crossing a high speed freeway and a giant picked her up to move her safely to the other side, she’d probably pee, too. It’s just nature.

Suddenly, all at once, whitetail deer pour out of the woods like foxes in the hunt. Late, but undeterred, mosquitos have arrived in Northern Minnesota. Meantime, shiny fat oversexed dead dragonflies lie in repose along the sides of every hot dirt road.

Lunch with the family. If you’re not outside, you’re doing it wrong. Sure, the bugs make it difficult, but that’s why they make ointment. Cold cuts and cheese. Crackers and gnat bites.

Maybe you’ve got a place to be. A family gathering. A barbecue with friends. Swimming at the lake. Riding bikes up the trail. Run. Sit. Read. Laugh. Water guns. Water balloons. Jump off the dock. Towels. That feeling after you dry off and put on a fresh shirt, while the water dries out of your ears. Look at all the people. They never age. Some are gone. Remember.

Hear the sound of a million leaves clapping for the wind.

The evening is a haze, still too hot to call night. We light the fires, illuminate our faces. Discount fireworks from a far more reckless Midwestern state appear from someone’s truck. Pop. Fizz. Blast.

The kids are tired, but there is no bedtime. Boys and girls sprint into the dusk, unafraid. The fire flies they see above will live in their memories forever.

The day ends, leaving a bright hue on the horizon long after the children are asleep. The night air is electric, wet grass between your toes. Are there stars tonight? There are stars every night. If you’ve seen them once you’ll see them forever. This day is over, but never gone.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog MinnesotaBrown.com and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This post first appeared in the Sunday, June 21, 2015 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.



  1. erickajen says

    this was magnificent!
    🙂 the 21st will always be my little girl’s birthday. this year, shes 2! 🙂

  2. Pat Jones says

    One of your best.

  3. David Gray says

    Nice column. When I see “the longest day” I always think D-Day…

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