The beginning of Spring season
"A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here
A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels."
— from Emily Dickinson's poem A Light exists in Spring
Wikipedia defines the Spring Equinox thus:
An equinox is traditionally defined as the time when the plane of Earth's equator passes through the geometric center of the Sun's disk. This occurs twice each year, around 20 March and 23 September. In other words, it is the moment at which the center of the visible Sun is directly above the equator.
This is a very dry and science-y way of saying that the day is equally split between night and day; the word orignates with Latin, of course (equi- equal, nocti- night). It's also fair to say that it marks the beginning of the season of Spring for most people.
The equinox marks an astronomical event, one which is significant as the days are longer than the nights. This is important to those of us who suffer with the long dark of winter days; in the bleakness of the UK winter, my battle with SAD was real. It is still important in California, the gloom lifts and the light seems brighter.
There are however many of us who have already marked Spring in the world around us. We note the pale green of the leaf buds breaking, we see the trees blossom, we see the bulbs coming up and flowering. We have already felt the stirrings of things waking from the winter, already witnessed the almost-daily quickening of life in all its forms. The bees are working in the blossoms, they knew it. The birds knew it, the animals knew it, the very Earth knew it. The cycle begins anew, Spring crops are coming and soon asparagus will be abundant for us at the farm. The next thing will be tomatoes going out to be planted and the potato harvest starting.
I often walk up into the hills here around the valley. They are already green from winter rains, but now the lupine is flowering, purple vetch is seen everywhere, and the ground itself is done trembling in anticipation and is making way for new roots, new plants. After a good wet winter, there's a waterfall in the canyon above the track; stay still long enough and you here the joyful chuckle of the creek as it makes its way to the valley floor. The hills are alive, indeed, and with luck there is water in the creeks and the rains are not yet quite done. It's a season of growth and of hope.
For anyone with a garden it's exciting. All the preparation during Autumn and Winter is starting to bear fruit (so to speak) and yet there is still a danger of frost. Each gardener, every farmer is aware and takes careful note of frost warnings, has a plan to mulch or cover crops and plant starts. The tender things still need care, and the gardener does what they can to protect them and give them what they need. Then there's planning for Summer, making sure there is seed for the tender crops, preparing beds and checking greenhouse space.
There's a special time of day before dawn when the light is noticeable and the horizon becomes clearer moment by moment. I watch it often, purely to see the detail emerge in the landscape as the twilight clears away and the light truly begins. I feel the warmth in my heart long before the sun itself is visible, there's that pagan certainty that the day is starting. There is work to be done in the daytime that cannot be done at night, and plans to bring to completion.
This is the same in the year, and the Equinox marks that moment equivalent to those first rays of the dawning Sun. Maybe it's a pagan thing, a farmer thing, but by Golly it's real to me. The planning of Winter is over and the work of Spring begins. Work? Yes, and the farmer and the field workers will confirm, because as crops grow so do the weeds.
It's also a time that is for me "Christine season". It begins with the frog song. Her birthday is the 23rd of March, she died on the 29th. It used to be so hard; after the beginning of the month I'd feel depression sneaking up, I'd be gloomy and burst into tears for what seemed to be no reason. But my mind and my heart knew the time of year. In time of course (it's just nearly ten years now!) the gloom gave way to thankfulness, and I had cause to celebrate her, not mourn her. And I do celebrate her now, even with a tear in my eye.
I spoke to Tessie earlier, who is putting together a series of remembrances and stories of Christine. She's planning to put it on her mother's Facebook wall, and I've offered to post it here too. If you have stories you'd like to tell, please let me know and I will give you my email address. With Tessie's permission I will post it here for you.
I'd like to thank the loving soul who reminded me of the Dickinson poem I quoted earlier. She sent it to me this morning, and it prompted me to write this. To you, and your family I tell you this; that I am honoured to be in your lives and have you in mine.
We each have our own personal Spring, a time when we can begin to put away the winter clothes and air out the lighter garments. Whilst there's no astronomical Solstice of the Heart, there is a hopeful season nonetheless. I know, my dear, that Winter will pass and Spring will come.
I realise that an awful lot of what I write here on E2 is about Christine, and I make no apologies for that. It has gotten easier with time, with far fewer tears and more funny stories and pleasant remembrances. As I have been emerging from my own Winter I have new hope, I have love, and just maybe my own personal Solstice is here. Like the farmer, I still have work to do, but it's a healing one.