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The Cover
August 11, 1999

Summer Landscape in Deer Grove

JAMA. 1999;282(6):508. doi:10.1001/jama.282.6.508

If winter is the longest of the seasons, then surely summer is the shortest. In the northern hemisphere, it begins in June and ends in September, but that is only according to the calendar. Already in June we are sliding winterward, for summer's beginning marks the end of days that had been growing steadily longer, though the hours of light will still outnumber the hours of dark. Summer ends when the two numbers become equal.

In the United States, summer is bracketed by a long weekend at either end and bisected by a third. They all catch us unaware. If the first surprises us, happily, by its suddenness, the second comes, less happily, also too soon: summer, at least functional summer, the part given over to carefree days, vacations, and leisure, is half through. But it is the third that catches us up short. Even its name is a reminder that it is time to return to school, to work, to reality. Summer is the only season that prompts people to look at one another and ask in disbelief, "Where has it gone?" as though it had fewer days than the other seasons.

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