Stepping out today, we couldn't help but notice that it felt like an almost perfect New York City day. Sunny, warm (but not too hot), fresh air all around with the reassuring sight of crisply dressed New Yorkers stepping off to work. Welcome to the summer solstice! Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year and the first day of summer. We are firmly in the Friday night of our summer experience. Everything ahead of us is pure potential. MGR From The Writer's Almanac: Today is the summer solstice, the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere. Today is the longest day of the year, and tonight is the shortest night. It's not that we are any closer to the sun. In fact, the earth is about three million miles further from the sun at this time of year. The difference is due to the fact that the planet is tilted on its axis, with the northern hemisphere tilted toward the sun. And it's that slight tilt, only 23 1/2 degrees that makes the difference between winter and summer and allows most of the plants we eat to germinate. Wheat and many other plants require an average temperature of at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit to grow; corn, 50 degrees; rice, an average temperature of 68 degrees.