Winter is gone. Even if The Old Man desperately rallies his forces and makes it snow once more, the storm will be cast as an interloper, trespassing on the Great and Welcome Thaw. Funny, we designate the last balmy remnants of summer’s warmth that reassert themselves after the first frost of fall as “Indian summer”, but we have no parallel term to designate the last lusty freeze or snowfall that comes after the advent of spring.
But no matter. We are now firmly in the jolly kingdom of spring. It was, after all, the equilux March 17, when the nighttime and daylight hours were almost, just about, absolutely equal. Or if you are the competitive sort, you can say it was the day when the balance switched and sunlight once again bested the darkness and outlasted it. The sun rose at 7:15 am and set at 7:16 pm, beating out darkness by one minute. (You too can find the exact times for sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset at http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.php)
The vernal equinox (“when the ecliptic, the path of the sun, crosses the celestial equator”), which most of us hear about and which marks the official start of spring, will happen tomorrow, March 20 at 1:32 PM EDT. (For equinox and solstice times, check out http://www.erh.noaa.gov/box/equinox.html For a drawing that can help you visualize this event, check out http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/E/equinox.html )
The difference between these two calendrical moments is this: the equinox is a celestial event, happening at a precise moment in time no matter where you are on earth. The equilux, however, is our local experience of the equinox. Where we are determines what we see, and when. Location and perception define the experience. And it occurs over the extended period of 24 hours, not at a precise, fleeting moment.
How true this is for so many things. There is the reality, and then there is our experience of that reality, depending on where we are, in all sorts of ways.
The hard news is that we have limited ability to change reality. The good news is that we are in total control of the narrative we weave around it. And at bottom, we are all story tellers. Let us choose to tell a story of hope and redemption. For that is the only way we will get there.
Have a freilicher, joyous, vernal equinox.