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The Spill: Ring of Fire

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Summer Solstice and a Rare Eclipse

The Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, occurred on June 20. During this time, the sun is at its highest point in the sky, which means it takes longer to rise and set. On the opposite side of the world, the Southern Hemisphere celebrates the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.

On this year’s solstice, some people were treated to a rare viewing of an annular eclipse. Unlike other eclipses, this one happens when the moon lines up with the sun, but it is too far away from the Earth to fully block the sun. The result was an amazing “ring of fire” of sunlight that shone around the moon.

Right on the heels of the Summer Solstice is Midsummer Day, which in 2020 takes place on June 24. The two coincide as the halfway point of the growing season, in between planting crops and harvesting them. Traditionally, people would enjoy bonfires the night before in a carnival atmosphere with events such as fire walking.

June 24 is also the feast day of St. John the Baptist, a Jewish prophet who preached the word of God and baptized people, including Jesus Christ. In the days of old, it was tradition to honor all the men named John by putting an oak wreath somewhere around their doors. The gifter was anonymous, and it was John’s duty to figure out who had placed the wreath. If successful, he would have to give the person a gift or treat as well.

President Trump Goes On the Road

The Coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for politicians during an election year. Precautions to prevent spreading the virus have made it impossible to campaign in traditional ways. Incumbent Donald Trump and prospective Democratic nominee Joe Biden toned their campaigns down since they couldn’t go out and meet the public. As the nation begins to reopen, the president took the opportunity to reach out to voters. His first campaign rally of 2020 was held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, over the weekend, but it wasn’t well attended. A Tuesday rally in Arizona was busier and gave him a chance to check the progress on border wall construction.

Arizona is a battleground state, a very important territory to win in this election. One of the hot topics of the area has been illegal immigration and border control, and part of Trump’s election platform had focused on just that. So, he headed to an area that recently reported a surge in COVID cases to inspect the completion of the 200th mile of wall near Yuma.

Trump’s visit to Arizona was two-fold: business and campaigning. After checking the border wall construction progress, he met with leaders to discuss other border control concerns and plans. After business was concluded, he focused on promoting his re-election bid.

The president spoke at an event held at the Dream City Church in Phoenix. Because of the Coronavirus, Arizona has mandated masks to be worn in public in most cities and towns. Dream City Church claims to have protection methods in place. Anyone wishing to attend the rally had to sign a waiver promising not to hold the church responsible if they catch COVID.

During the rally, Trump called activists in CHAZ (a.k.a. CHOP), and those trying to pull down statues, part of a “mob.” He said, “It’s not the behavior of a peaceful political movement. It’s the behavior of totalitarians and dictators and people who don’t love our country.” Police also dispersed protesters nearby the event.

Treasure Discovered in Rocky Mountains

Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt, especially if you’re lucky enough to find the hidden gifts? One fortunate, unnamed person claimed a prize estimated at more than $2 million: a chest of gold and artifacts that had been hidden in the Rocky Mountains more than ten years ago by millionaire Forrest Fenn. More than 300,000 treasure seekers had flocked to the area with only the words from a poem, which is said to have contained nine clues to lead them to “X marks the spot.”

Fenn, who will be 90 years old on his next birthday, is a former Air Force fighter pilot. He also runs an art gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After being diagnosed with kidney cancer, he thought it would be fun to devise a treasure hunt as a way to inspire people to “get off their couches.”

The treasure chest contained 265 gold coins, a bracelet made with hundreds of gems including rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds, hundreds of gold nuggets, gold dust, prehistoric “mirrors” of hammered gold, pre-Hispanic animal figurines, and Chinese faces carved from jade.

Unfortunately, five people died while trying to find the elusive treasure, which prompted authorities to ask Fenn to call off the search. “The treasure is not hidden in a dangerous place,” he responded. “I hid it when I was about 80 years old.”

Even after the chest was found, Fenn still didn’t divulge its location, writing on his blog that, “It was under a canopy of stars in the lush, forested vegetation of the Rocky Mountains and had not moved from the spot where I hid it more than [ten] years ago. I do not know the person who found it, but the poem in my book led him to the precise spot.”

Here is the poem of clues from Fenn’s book, The Thrill of the Chase. Do you think you could solve its mysteries to find the chest of gold?

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is drawing ever nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answer I already know
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

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