In the Northern Hemisphere, we would be celebrating today as “The first day of Spring.” We even call this day the “Vernal Equinox” or “Spring Equinox” (“vernal” means “Spring”).
Okay, first let’s start with “equinox” so you at least know what I’m talking about, in case you weren’t raised by a family of geeks who excelled in Trivial Pursuit and loved to talk about such things. 😉 The “equinox” occurs twice a year, in March and September, somewhere between the 20th and 23rd. This year, it’s today, March 20th, and will occur again on September 23rd.
The word “equinox” basically means “equal night”. It’s the day of year when the length of night and length of day are the same. My brother, who has a rather brilliant aptitude for knowing astronomy and, well, pretty much anything he reads, could of course explain it better. Unfortunately, I seem to be unable to absorb the wisdom. I’m like the dog in Gary Larson’s Far Side cartoon:
Nothing about the tilt of the Earth’s axis, or the position of the plane of the equator to the center of the sun really registers except as words that make me tired. The only thing allowed to occupy my brain related to the March Equinox is, “It’s Spring! Daffodils! Daffodils! Daffodils!”
But this is my first March where I will not see crocuses and daffodils blooming on our Pennsylvania hillsides.
Sure, you read in books and learn in school (if you remember that far back) that the “upside down” side of the world has seasons opposite yours, but it still never occurs to you that these times of year should be called anything other than what you know. And what I know is that at home, now, the March Equinox means Spring.
But here in South Africa the weather has been changing. Summer’s ending and the rain and cooler air are moving in. There has been intense flooding in parts of South Africa recently. The farmers celebrate the rain, and the poor townships watch as floodwaters drown too many of their inhabitants.
Outside, the shift is not as dramatic as Pennsylvania changing seasons. Our winter is snowy and frigid, so the March Equinox signals a true rebirth from barren to bountiful. And the autumn in America’s northeast wraps itself in vibrant hues and it seems like someone flips a switch signaling summer is over and we scurry to put wood in the fireplace and dig out our winter clothes.
South Africa’s shift seems, to my four-seasons-seasoned self, more subtle. But you can still feel it, see it, smell it. I’ll have to update you again, when our first year cycle has completed at the end of May.
Until then, I thought I’d share some of the springtime I’ll be missing back home this March, April and May, by posting photos of our Pennsylvania home in Springtime.
Happy Equinox, Readers!