Outdoors

Roger Phillips: I propose a holiday without social significance

Holidays can be a touchy subject, but I am throwing caution to the wind by saying we should adopt Summer Solstice on June 21 as a bona fide, all-hands holiday.

We love holidays, assuming we get the day off from work and understand the “true meaning” of them (and act accordingly).

We recently had Memorial Day, which is traditionally the unofficial start of summer, although it’s nearly a month before. Memorial Day is a solemn holiday where we remember those who fought and died for our country, but some people go mattress shopping, which annoys many other people.

I can’t claim the moral high ground because I went camping, but I can sincerely say I don’t reserve just one day to the memory of those who fought and died for our country and our way of life, which for better or worse, includes mattress sales during holidays.

The reason I mention Summer Solstice is because we need a tradition-free and guilt-free holiday for the sole purpose of doing whatever the heck we want for a long, long time without worrying about what the neighbors think. Although it may have been a pagan holiday at one time, it never got any traction in the good ol’ U.S. of A, which is too bad.

Summer Solstice seems tailor-made for a holiday. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, sunrise will be at 6:03 a.m. and sunset at 9:29 p.m. But that’s not the whole story because it’s actually light outside longer than that. Let’s add an hour based on Idaho Fish and Game’s rules for “shooting light,” which is a half-hour before sunrise and half-hour after sunset.

Now we’re talking 16 hours and 32 minutes of daylight, because if you can shoot a bull elk before sunrise or after sunset, surely you can do less intense activities without waiting for the official sunrise or stopping at the official sunset. You may, at your discretion, watch the sunset and then return to your favorite activity, because in my book, watching the sunset counts as an activity.

So that gives us 16 hours and change to cut loose, and as the cool dudes say, “That’s epic, bro.”

How about fishing for 16 hours? How about mountain biking, ATV riding, water skiing, hiking, peak bagging (technically hiking, but much tougher), rafting, even stand-up paddle boarding? The opportunities are endless, and to make it even better, weather will probably be good throughout the state and suitable for all our favorite activities that don’t require snow or frozen lakes.

Weather is an important factor, because snowstorms in Idaho’s mountains on Memorial Day weekend are practically a tradition, but much less likely June 21. And while the desert and lowlands may be heating up, they probably won’t be unbearable on Summer Solstice Holiday. Water should be warm enough to take a dip in a lake or river without getting an ice cream headache (actual results may vary).

You may be asking, “Isn’t that what the Fourth of July is for?”

I concede the Fourth of July is close to what I am suggesting, because we loosely interpret how to celebrate our country’s independence, and I can’t knock a holiday that condones the combination of alcohol and explosives. While I am not encouraging risky behavior or misuse of fireworks, it can be entertaining. Check out YouTube for examples.

But it’s also hot as blazes on the Fourth of July. Daylight is slightly shorter than on Summer Solstice, which is not bound by tradition or any historical significance, so it’s a clean slate to celebrate as you see fit.

Like every holiday, I am willing to fudge on the actual date of Summer Solstice Holiday because it lands on a Sunday this year. Most of us already have that day off, so we need an official holiday so we can get Monday off to recover from our excesses, or if they’re really good excesses, continue them another day.

Summer Solstice Holiday may be tough to get through Congress, considering it probably couldn’t pass a bill certifying that America is home to Americans because someone might accurately point out there are Central Americans and South Americans who may also think they’re Americans, which would cause a bitter and heated battle in Congress that would probably cost taxpayers roughly a trillion dollars. Blue-ribbon panels and traveling the talk-show circuits aren’t cheap, you know.

But I digress.

Since the Idaho Legislature has thankfully gone home (for a second time), we won’t trouble them with this. I am probably not going far out on a limb saying that during the next session, legislators will be too busy saving the sanctity of something from something unsanctioned to officially adopt a fun-filled holiday for fun hogs.

So I am giving everyone more than two weeks notice that an unsanctioned holiday awaits Sunday, June 21 (you may mark your calendar, which is probably already marked) with this significant contribution to humanity.

Buy your bait, tune your bike, top off the boat, load the cooler, gather the tribe and abide by the official motto of Summer Solstice Holiday: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.”

It’s going to be epic, bro.

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