Whether you go by the astronomical or the meteorological or the school calendar, it’s now summer—at least in the northern hemisphere. You didn’t know there was a difference? Neither did I, until I looked it up.

Most of us know about the summer solstice, a date which can vary by a day or two but for 2023 was June 21, the day I’m writing this. Most people consider this the “official” start of summer. But I learned that climate scientists and, I suppose, weather forecasters, use a meteorological calendar that sets June 1 as the start date for summer. They divided the 12 months into four seasons of three months each, which correspond more closely to what we experience in daily life. The exactness of this approach allows them to compare seasons from year to year with consistent dates. School calendars, of course, provide the maximum variation. My Iowa grandchildren finished the school year just before Memorial Day—nearly a month ago, while my Minnesota grands have been out of school only about two weeks now. The weather, on the other hand, has been summer-like for much of the country even longer. And some of you may be dealing with extreme heat. I pray you are all taking care to avoid heat-related problems while enjoying the season.