On the day of the summer solstice, I had spectacular plans. I would rise before the sun, drive to nearby Kenneth Hahn Park, hike up the hill and watch the sun rise above the city. That evening, I would drive 20 minutes to the beach and marvel at the sun setting over the Pacific on the longest day of the year. I would journal about both events, take photos and get my family, our puppy included, involved in at least the sunset adventure.
At dawn, I asked Siri what time the sun would rise. “5:43 a.m.,” she said. It was already 5:25, and I wasn’t dressed. There was no way I’d get to the park and up the hill in time. Plus, I’d stayed up late working, and my sluggish body was not cooperating with my heart’s wishes. I washed my face, slipped my son’s sliders over my mismatched socks and draped my shawl over my shoulders. Outside, though, there were no hints of the sun. The sky was the color of faded denim. The air was thick with moisture. I walked several blocks. After a few minutes, I felt one drop of drizzle, then a few more. My locs were heavy with humidity. I decided to head back home and get an early start on work. There was always sunset.
True to form, the sun broke through by late morning. I announced to my son: “It’s the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. After I’m done working, we’re taking Pepper [our puppy] to the beach.”
“I didn’t agree to this!” he protested.
Sunset would occur just after 8, Siri said. By 6, I was still working and my enthusiasm was quickly dissipating. Fatigue weighed down on me like a marine layer, my head was spinning from computer overuse and lack of sleep. My husband came home and saw my state. “Why don’t I just take them to the dog park while you get some rest?” he suggested. I protested mildly, but he was right. I could barely keep my eyes open. My vision for the first day of summer was fading behind my lids. After the guys left, I walked out to our backyard, which, during the first year of the pandemic, my husband transformed from a desolate square of dirt and patches of thirsty grass to a green and flowered oasis that one friend calls our “Shangri-La.” I can sit out here and watch the sun until I can no longer see it over the wooden fence, I thought. But my body fought against even that, and by the time the sun set, I was under the covers in my bed, deep asleep.
And it was spectacular.
We had a blast putting this “Summer Spectacular” issue together for you. It’s a trove of theme park fun, dozens of events, delicious eats and ways to enjoy the outdoors. Whatever your vision for your family’s summer is, I hope it’s also filled with the kind of flexibility and compassion that allows you to get some much-needed rest.