The longest day
Once I spent the longest day of the year in Helsinki. I was there for a PhD thesis defense. I was the outside examiner, or as it was explained to me, the Opponent. As the Opponent, I dressed up and, as is traditional, wore a black suit with tails for the public defense. Immediately following the successful defense, again following tradition, the candidate threw a party for the Opponent, me, at a bar. The party went on until late hours, featuring, memorably and fittingly ending the party, a wrestling match on the floor of the bar with the candidate and the candidate’s doctoral supervisor. As the party ended, I stepped out of the noisy dark windowless bar in my formal black suit with tails, tired with my head whirling from the long day, my jet lag, the physics back-and-forth of the defense, and the late hour, into the bright Finnish sunlight. I felt like I had walked into a new world.
After a long winter in Montréal, we are all stepping cautiously into the bright sunshine of a new season. My next-door neighbor, not quite believing the winter was ending or not wanting to jinx the process, told my wife and me that he was putting on his car’s spring tires, rather than summer tires. This cold dark miserable Québec winter, like a perfectly formed pun, brought some gloomy and divisive ideas to our public discourse — thoroughly opposed, they are behind us for now at least, as we walk optimistically into the bright sunshine of the year’s longest day.