September 20 , 2017 /


The September equinox occurs the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from north to south. This happens either on September 22, 23, or 24 every year.

This year, 2017, it happens on Friday, September 22 at 20:02 UTC, which for me in PDT is 1:02 PM.   You have to do some calculating depending on where in the northern hemisphere you are. UTC refers to Coordinated Universal Time, one of the successors to Greenwich Mean Time and is the primary standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. Imagine that! We think we can regulate or manipulate time according to the earth’s rotation. Regardless, the beginning of Fall, known as autumn in many countries is marked by this date and time.  As Summer slips and slides sliently into Fall, several things come to mind for me.

On the equinox, night and day are nearly exactly the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. This is the reason it’s called an “equinox”, derived from Latin, meaning “equal night”. However, even if this is widely accepted, it isn’t entirely true. In reality equinoxes do not have exactly 12 hours of daylight.

The point for me is not so much the technical aspects as the opportunity to celebrate Mother Nature and recall many wonderful experiences associated with this time of the year. One of the more obvious ones is the change in the colors of the leaves, from summer’s green to fall’s brilliant yellows, orange, copper and in some places, red. Another is the time of harvest, receiving the bounties of field and garden, a time of putting up and preserving for winter. Our families had “fruit cellars” where we stored vegetables and fruits to be used throughout the cold months.

I remember an old gospel hymn “Bringing in the Sheaves.” It was a seasonal hymn in the churches where I endured many Sunday mornings. For those of you who know the tune or the words, it’s another way to express gratitude for the harvest. Never mind that Frank Zappa used it in “Wonderful Wino” or that Faye Dunaway sang it to Dustin Hoffman in “Little Big Man”. Then there are the lyrics from Neil Diamond in “September Morn.”

This September morning finds me at Yosemite National Park in the final week of a month long, wonderful, 6000 mile road trip that has taken us through many beautiful parts of the West and Northwest USA and Canada. The concomitant feeling is enormous gratitude for being able to celebrate this particular equinox with the wedding of our oldest granddaughter this weekend in Calistoga, CA.  While this equinox may well pass by unrecognized by many, if not most people, it will be a special time of celebration for our families and friends.  Leave it to me to call this time of transition to their attention.

Comments (4)

  1. Hope the wedding is wonderful and you’re enjoying your travels!

    I’ve lived overseas, on the opposite side of the planet for five years now. However, September will forever be the start of Fall for me. I think it’s somewhere in my cells at this point. However… it’s the Spring Equinox here! As if I need a bigger reminder of where I am, it will be 38 degrees C this weekend (100.4 F). I think that noticing the time, the transition, keeps us grounded. At least it does for me. Thanks for this. I’ll be sleeping at 5:30 AM on Saturday morning but when I wake up, I’ll think of your post…


    1. Thanks! Arrived home today after a very long road trip for the past month. It was spectacular – scenery, experiences, people, out of the way places off the beaten path, small town cafes, golden aspens in Colorado today through the mountains. Will try and capture some of the highlights later. The wedding was perfect. Ideal weather, 120 guests in Calistoga, CA that included families & friends, young & old. And yes, yet another transition. Happy Spring to you!

  2. Wonderful I was familiar with term equinox and its seasonal significance but I did not know theLatin meaning thanks JAB

    1. Always learning. Lessons everywhere. All we need are eyes, ears and the appetite to increase our knowledge and understanding. Then we need to decide what to do with it. Thanks!

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