Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Spring is my favorite time of year. The rebirth of my garden always inspires me like no other time of the year. The smell of fresh grass, the dirt beneath my fingernails as I get the pots ready for the herbs and vegetables that will grace my patio all ignite my inner child, the one that dreams up the happily ever afters, the fantastical stories of witches, curses and ghosts!
But it's also fun to think about facts associated with this time of year.
The first day of spring is also called the vernal equinox. “Vernal” and “equinox” are Latin terms meaning “spring” and “equal night” respectively.
Is the Vernal Equinox really equal? The idea is that on the first day of spring there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness, but it rarely works out that way. (Does anything ever work out the way we expect? Usually not for me! LOL)
There is always a time each spring, and then again each fall, when the hours of light and darkness are equal, but it usually occurs before the vernal equinox and after the autumnal equinox.
The First Day of Spring--which occurs on March 20 or 21 each year, signals the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, is also the autumnal equinox—the first day of autumn—in the Southern Hemisphere. Conversely, the autumnal equinox in the north, which occurs in late September, is the first day of spring south of the equator.
Now, if you were standing on the equator during either the vernal or autumnal equinox, you would see the sun pass directly overhead, the only two times in the year when that is true. The two equinoxes are also the only times during the year when the sun rises due east and sets due west.
In spring, the Earth’s axis is tilted toward the sun, increasing the number of daylight hours and bringing warmer weather that causes plants to bring forth new growth. The buds on the trees sometimes seem to pop out overnight - I love that!
There is a persistent myth that at the vernal equinox, and only at the vernal equinox, can you stand a raw egg on its end. There is an equally persistent rebuttal that says it’s not possible at any time to balance a raw egg on its end. Neither assertion is true (at least this is what I've heard, because I've never tried it myself.) With a little patience (or sometimes a lot), you can balance a raw egg on its end at any time of year. (Hmmm, it is science fair season, wonder if I can convince my daughter to try this?)
So, the first day of spring has nothing to do with it.
Whether we can balance an egg or just smell the essense of spring when we open the windows, this time of year can still inspire us to look for something new in our lives and in our writing.