Mr. Cope's Cave: Day of Father and Sun 

Are you one who believes that conjunctions of cosmic forces with earthly occasions—planetary alignments with birthdays, solar eclipses with millennial turnovers, exceptional sun flare activity with one-day-only sales at R.C. Willey... that sort of thing—happen for a reason?... That such remarkable coincidences are not coincidences at all, but are instead mystical harbingers announcing the immediacy of portentous events?... That they are, perhaps, momentary clean spots on the Windows of Revelation in the Doors of Perception leading to the Bathrooms of Enlightenment?... Perhaps, even, that the Masters of the Universe, those rascals, are telling us to wake up and smell the coming of reality-altering access to the mysteries of transcendental existence?

Nah, neither am I. Outside of movies and delusional minds, coincidences are just coincidences.

That's not to say some coincidences aren't pretty cool, and there's one coming up Sunday to which I feel compelled to draw your attention—the concurrence of Fathers' Day and the summer solstice.

Think about it! Fathers' Day falling on the longest day of the year! What does it MEAN!!!!?

OK, it doesn't mean much of anything, nor is it particularly rare. Fathers' Day is always the third Sunday in June, and the solstice is always somewhere between the 20th and 22nd. So as near as I can figure, they fall on the same day about once in every four or five years.

Except, of course, for those billions of years when there was no such thing as Fathers' Day.

It's like this: While a solstice doesn't need human participation—it's been an astronomical reality ever since there was a clump of rock spinning on its tilted axis around a central star, long before any Druids or hippies came along to celebrate the event with Boones Farm and nakedness—Fathers' Day is just over a century old. The first American Fathers' Day was organized in 1908 to commemorate the deaths of hundreds of men in a West Virginia mining accident, and by 1909, it had evolved into an occasion to sell barbecue grills and new undershorts.

Actually, while the 1908 event was a real thing, I made up the stuff about 1909. In truth, it took another 60 or 70 years for the Fathers' Day marketing to rev up to full hype. Sorry I lied, but as you may not realize, I'm desperately trying to turn a meaningless coincidence into an excuse not to address what happened in South Carolina on Wednesday. At the moment, I can't think where to begin. I am frankly sick in the soul to think that we are here again. Or that there is nothing we can do about it but talk.

So, in lieu of there being any deep and mystical import to be found in this juxtaposition of days—or even anything truly worth talking about in the shadow of another mass murder—I guess I will take the opportunity to remind my friends and neighbors here on the western edge of one of Earth's 24 time zones how fortunate we are. Come Sunday evening, after you've had about enough of running Dad beers and steaks and watching every dumb thing he wants to watch on television because he won't let anyone forget it's Fathers' Day, take a moment to savor whatever's left of the latest light of the year.

Consider this: At the 45th parallel (which transects Idaho just north of New Meadows), a time zone is roughly 750 miles wide. The eastern edge of the Mountain Time Zone, at our latitude, is central Nebraska. At 10 o'clock Sunday night, even if they are on Daylight Savings Time like us, central Nebraska will be dark. But as we are on the side of the zone where the sun goes down, we'll still be bathed in the glorious, glorious summer glow, and have at least another half-hour of it to enjoy. I think that's pretty neat. I'm one who believes the best time to savor a summer day is in the soft, later hours. Outside. Where the birds and the trees and everything else seem to be savoring those precious last minutes with us.

It's such a perfect time to reflect on how blessed we are, isn't it? All of us. To be living on such a benevolent rock, spinning on its axis around a central sun. Maybe if people were to spend more time reflecting on that lucky little rock, and less time thinking about how unhappy they are with some of those with whom we share this rock, well... who knows?... maybe nine good souls would still be with us today.

We also owe a bit of gratitude to whomever came up with Daylight Savings, don't we? They knew what they were doing. They knew what is worth savoring. So if you know someone who's always whining about Daylight Savings, tell them Bill Cope said to shut up and go sit outside for a while, before it's too dark to see. While there's still time. Even if it's your Dad.
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