It is the June solstice today.
The summer is in some respects only beginning, yet it is also now at its very peak.
The days are longer than they will be at any other point in the calendar.
This is particularly important in a place as far to the north as Northern Ireland.
We live at a higher latitude than the overwhelming bulk of people who inhabit either North America or Europe.
And those continents themselves are further from the equator than are whole swathes of the world’s population.
There are downsides to being so distant from the tropics, including chilly, damp weather and lack of sunshine.
But there are upsides, and none more obvious than the super long June days that bathe Ulster in daylight at this time of year.
It is something that people who grew up in Northern Ireland typically remember for the rest of their lives, wherever they might end up living. Our expats often feel a pull back to ‘home’ and a memory of June is one of the reasons why they do.
Yesterday, on the eve of the longest day, Northern Ireland enjoyed its warmest day of 2022 (as did Scotland, which is even further to the north).
The mercury touched 22.2 Celsius — 72 Fahrenheit (see link below).
It is hard to imagine a better combination of climate and season anywhere on Earth than Northern Ireland on a warm, sunny June day like yesterday, with the light beginning to become apparent after 4am and still there at almost 11pm, and with a backdrop of lush vegetation.
It is true that NI rarely gets weather as fine as it did yesterday but that rarity means that we savour it more when it does happen.
Another happy element to the summer solstice is the knowledge that two full months of summer lie ahead, to be enjoyed whether you are staying home or heading abroad.
• Ruth Dudley Edwards: Higgins has delighted SF by politicising Irish presidency
• Ben Lowry June 18: John Bolton’s criticism of Ireland reflects a strain of US thinking
• WB Smith June 17: London should read John Oliver on Northern Ireland
• Esmond Birnie June 16: Why the Protocol status quo is not beneficial to Northern Ireland
• Barrister June 15: EU misuse of Belfast Agreement is biggest threat to NI stability since 1998