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Thoughts On This the Longest Day of the Year: an essay by local author John Bragstad

Jun 21, 2023 11:12AM ● By Content Editor
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By local author and writer John Bragstad for Boreal Community Media - June 21, 2023

Life can be defined by the word bitter-sweet. But 
nobody orders like that; “I’ll have the Merlot, but only if it’s 
bitter-sweet and an excellent vintage.” 

So many occasions where bitter-sweet is the one word
that expresses feelings around extraordinary but ordinary

A teenager graduates from high school, the last child to
leave home. A long-awaited retirement means leaving
friends, familiarity, purpose, and place. Bitter-sweet.

Bitter may not be the exact word. It may need a bit of
rounding off on its edges. But the word does nail our
experience in a way - doesn’t it?

It reminds us life is rarely one thing or another. For every
gift we receive, there may be a loss as well.

I am grateful for the lengthening days on this, the
longest day of the year. I am thankful for the sun
remaining high in the sky for much longer. I love the sun’s
lazy approach to the evening.

Even on the solstice of June 21, I know it will be a month 
before I notice the irrevocable power of darkness.

As much as I rejoice in the full blush of summer’s light, I
am also aware another season has come and is leaving
us. The full crescendo of spring and summer’s 
lengthening days is past. We are, like it or not, on the
downward slope.

Bitter-Sweet is what we cannot avoid. We have regrets
even as we taste the fullness of life. Delighted for the
moment, we know it will not last. Change has already

Graduations, birthdays, weddings, and seasons all
pronounce this unspoken word. Life tumbles forward,
always leaving other things behind.

And so a toast to the Great New Year’s Eve of Summer,
adventures in the waning light, and the promise of
blueberries and harvest to come!

About the author

John A. Bragstad has been a therapist, working with couples and individuals, for 25 years. He is self-published and is enjoying retirement. Lake Superior is just off his front porch.

He has written three books: Compass Season, Loon Laughter at Midnight, and Who's Watching Whoo? They are available in Grand Marais at Drury Lane and Lake Superior Trading Post, or at

Related: Meet your Boreal Community Media Freelance Journalist: John Bragstad
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