When the Julian calendar was established around 45 BC, a date in March was fixed for the vernal equinox, that time and moment in the Spring when night and day are of equal length. It has to do with the tilt of the earth toward the sun and at this time it’s approximately zero. For those who like to have a moment in time, maybe to pause and give thanks, Spring arrives officially on Sunday, March 20, at 11:33 A.M. EDT.
The hours of night and day are not exactly the same. George Greenstein, an astronomer had this to say: “There are two reasons. First, light rays from the Sun are bent by the Earth’s atmosphere. (This is why the Sun appears squashed when it sets.) They are bent in such a way that we are actually able to see the Sun before it rises and after it sets. The second reason is that daytime begins the moment any part of the Sun is over the horizon, and it is not over until the last part of the Sun has set. If the Sun were to shrink to a starlike point and we lived in a world without air, the spring and fall equinoxes would truly have ‘equal nights.’”
In the northern hemisphere, we celebrate the return of the light, actually beginning at Winter solstice but even more so in the Spring with the advent of new growth that we can see and smell. While we may spend more time inside than outside in the winter, we are glad to be outside again. And the closer you are to the earth, the more enhanced the senses. I remember at this time of the year that Easter (Eostre, pagan goddess of Spring) is the first Sunday, after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. It’s why it’s called a moveable feast.
What can we learn from Mother Nature? Photosynthesis is as natural to plants as eating is to humans. In fact, there are some similarities with several significant exceptions. One is that plants seldom overeat. They take what they need, water from the ground through their roots, CO2 from the air and sunlight to turn water and CO2 into oxygen and glucose. The way they do this is called photosynthesis which means literally “putting together with light.” Light gives growth to life. How do we live in an enlightened state of growth?
Lessons from nature abound. The rhythm and dance continue in their annual display of new growth, especially that green, green, green of newness. Here are 10 lessons to consider.
1 Eat what you need to sustain your vitality.
2 Save resources for leaner times.
3 Add some color to your life.
4 Figure out what you don’t need and let it go.
5 Prepare well for the next season.
6 Wait and don’t try to rush the process. Let it work.
7 Embrace and celebrate inevitable change.
8 Know that what is not seen is often more important than what is seen.
9 Drink enough water to help the flow and grow
10 Remember that too much sun may be more damaging than not enough.
So, what are we to make of this seasonal shift? Perhaps Alexander Pope said it best in his Essay on Man, 1733:
“Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”