Category Archives: Equinox

If it Ain’t Got that Swing

I know, the weather’s been odd. Snow’s been falling snow on snow in much of the country all this month. Here in Lake Worth, where we had a warm February, the nights this March have been cool, and our first day of spring will be a day of swing: It’s forecast to reach the upper 90s this afternoon (wha?) and then drop down to 62 tonight.

But March is like this: all over the place. We know this. One thing is certain, however: the almanac brings us today the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a time of balance, the equinox is, even if the weather does not seem to agree, and twice a year we experience a period of general equality of sunlight across the planet. Come tomorrow, the Northern Hemisphere will be a day closer to summer, the Southern Hemisphere a day closer to winter. But for today, balance and equality.

If some measure of precision is important to you, the equinox arrives here in Lake Worth at 12:15 in the afternoon. That’s Eastern Daylight Time, “Daylight” because we’ve just last week set our clocks ahead by an hour. There is a movement afoot in the State Legislature here in the Sunshine State to keep us Floridians perpetually in Daylight Saving Time, and I am not so sure how I feel about that. It’s funny how our representatives can’t get anything done about more important matters, and yet there was an almost universal agreement that it is a good idea to rob us of an hour of daylight in the morning by sticking it on to our evenings all year long. All in all, I am more of a roundabout sort of guy, not very precision-oriented. So when you get right down to it, it doesn’t matter all that much to me. But I do know that when I was in high school, classes started at 7 AM, and it was tough enough getting to school on time without it being dark out. If anything, I’d be more inclined to keeping us all in Standard Time.

But wait. (How did we get here? This whole concept of time and its measurement and the tools we’ve invented with which to do so––and then we get folks like Albert Eintstein telling us we can go backwards in time if we travel fast enough––well, all of these things perplex me and make my head hurt.) Let’s return to spring. When I lived in Alabama, learning how to print and make paper and bind books, eating barbecue served with sliced white bread once a week and occasional gifts of Hamburger Pie from the neighbors, there was one season I particularly loved: Spring. The trees erupted each spring with flowers blooming like nothing I had ever seen growing up in Florida. They bloomed and when they did it was like snow was falling, except the sun was warm on my skin and the petals drifted passed my shoulder in slow motion from the trees to the ground. I remember white blossoms, in particular, and pink ones, too. Spring in Alabama was so beautiful. It arrives there today by the almanac and everywhere in this great hemisphere as our warm and gentle summer season approaches, one day closer now in our planet’s yearly circle round the sun. May your springtide be just as beautiful.

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I’m sorry, things have been hectic, and I missed writing to you for St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday and for San Giuseppe, St. Joseph’s Day, yesterday. I hope you had cabbage and I hope you had zeppole. We did. Easter is fast on the approach and we have some really wonderful new things in the Convivio Book of Days Catalog for Spring, all of them traditional handicrafts from Europe. There are a whole bunch of new designs of our handmade paper maché egg containers from Germany, new hand painted pysanky from Ukraine and from Poland, and more. Take a peak, won’t you? Spend $50 on these items (or anything in the catalog), and we’ll ship your domestic order to you via US Priority Mail for free. How great is that?

Image: “Čeština: Jaro” (or, in English, “Spring”) by Eduard Tomek. Watercolor on paper, 1958 [Creative Commons] via Wikimedia Commons.

 

The Darker Half

Come 4:02 PM Eastern Daylight Time today, summer officially gives way to autumn: it is the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, with the opposite being true in the Southern Hemisphere, for there, this is the moment that spring begins. Things will be more or less balanced for a short time, but as we continue past this day, from this point forward we here in the Northern Hemisphere will have more darkness each day than light, while folks in the Southern Hemisphere will have more light each day than darkness. It is a gradual change, each day different from the one before, and it all has to do with the 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth on its axis as it makes its yearly journey around the sun. Were it not for that 23.5 degrees, we would have no seasons at all.

And so the sun about now is rising pretty much due east and setting pretty much due west. We are in a brief time of balance, something worth seeking in our lives at least twice each year as the two equinox periods come and go. Not an easy task, to be certain.

It may be the first day of autumn by the almanac, but in traditional reckoning of time, the equinox is the midpoint of autumn, which began with the first of the harvest festivals, Lammas, at the start of August. Again, balance, as we find ourselves at the center of the season, half of it in the past, half of it yet to come, both sides of it on either side of where we stand now.

 

Spring

And now it is spring in our Northern Hemisphere. We are halfway between winter solstice and summer solstice. Change, the only thing that stays the same: each day a bit different from the one before and the one to come, and yet for a few days, we will be in balance: day and night roughly the same, across the globe. The sun due east as it rises, due west as it sets.

When we were in New York earlier this month for Dad’s funeral, at the Cemetery of the Holy Rood, I happened upon these flowers beginning to bloom. Since then, they’ve been covered in snow and I don’t know if they’ll be blooming again or not. But I liked how, that day, at least, it was a little bit of everything, all at one time, at least in that frame: dry leaves of autumn, fresh growth of spring, earthy browns, miraculous purples. With each passing day, light and springtime gradually win over darkness and winter, and before you know it, summer will be coming in, and we will welcome again that gentle time of year.