Today is the March/Spring Equinox. This equinox marks the moment where the Sun crosses the equator and usually occurs between March 19-21 every year. Both the March and September equinoxes are when the Sun shines directly on the equator making night and day nearly equal.
The March equinox is the transition from winter to spring in the Northern Hemisphere but the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere (summer into fall). Various cultures celebrate March equinox as a time of rebirth. Many spring festivals are timed to coincide with the equinox and some religious events (Passover and Easter) use specific calculations based on the equinox to help determine the exact day of the event.
Though the equinox marks the changing of the seasons, it is quite common for winter effects to continue in many places far until May or even June.
And if you live in an agricultural area where sheep abound, a sure sign of Spring is that lambs are born. Lots of them. To this day no scientist has ever figured how the mother can instantly know her offspring in a field where so many lambs abound.
Laetare Sunday is the fourth Sunday in the Lenten season. Since it is half way through Lent, it is a time to rejoice (Laetare means rejoice) and a time to understand about baptismal rebirth. Priests can elect to wear rose colored vestments on this Sunday. And the Gospel of John account of the blind man being healed is read. The Solemnity of St. Joseph, which is observed on March 19, will be moved to the following day should it be on Laetare Sunday.
Spring is almost here but winter still has a kick in it.
And in case you forgot-Daylight Savings Time began at 2 am by adding one hour to 3 am on March 12. So if you did not do so, you need to move your clock one hour ahead or you will be late for work on Monday!
For those following the liturgical calendar, this is the last day of ordinary time in most Christian churches. Next Sunday is the start of a new liturgical year and is the first Sunday of Advent for those that follow that calendar (Eastern Orthodox uses the old Julian calendar, so they are 13 days behind. For 2023, Christmas Eve will be on January 6 and Christmas Day on January 7.)
Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. is this coming Thursday, November 24.
Summer is gone and Autumn has officially begun here in the northern hemisphere. The hot breath of summer is still blazing in many places though. Once again Death Valley topped out on Saturday at 107?F (41? C) with a low of 20?F (-6? C) at both Bodie, CA and near Mackay, ID.
Bodie is today a ghost town but started in 1859 as a mining camp. The discovery of gold would lead to a boom in 1876 and by 1879 its population was somewhere between 7,000-10,000. The boom lasted until around 1880. Then the discovery of gold elsewhere began drawing people away. The mines kept producing gold and a smaller community thrived in the town for many years. Most who stayed did so because they wanted to settle down. By 1910 the population was 698. The city newspaper folded in 1912. The Standard Consolidation Mine was closed in 1913, was bought up and reopened and for a while made some profit. It was not enough to stop the decline though. In 1917 the Bodie Railway stopped running and the last mine closed in 1942. The 1920 census showed a population of 120. People would still live there until after the end of WW II, but it was mostly a ghost town. In 1961 Bodie was declared a National Historic Landmark and the following year the Bodie State Historic Park was created. Today you can visit the once boom town and see, from the existing and surviving buildings, what it was like back in the late 19th century to live in a Gold Rush boom town.
With October coming up soon, Halloween decorations are appearing along with the usual Halloween themed commercials on television. With the fall harvest comes the change in produce. More apples appear since they are harvested in late summer and early fall. Artichokes, cranberries, pears, and pumpkins are also available during this time. In areas with lots of wineries, grapes are harvested for both wine and table use. No more grapes from Chile!
Although Covid restrictions have eased, supply issues and higher costs means a lot of Halloween candy and other items are more expensive this year than before. This may lead families doing simpler Halloween activities. There was something to be said about dunking for apples, caramel covered apples, roasting pumpkin seeds and making lots of popcorn. And with a lot of cleverness, you can make easy decorations without having to buy them at the store. Many people are relearning how their great-grandparents got through the Great Depression by keeping costs low and at the same time keeping their families fed.
There are two equinoxes in the year, Autumn (September) and Spring (March). When these equinoxes occur the sun is directly on the equator, and the length of day and night is almost equal. In the Northern hemisphere, the September Equinox heralds autumn but the opposite below the equator where it heralds the beginning of spring. Go here to see the time it begins in your area.
For those of us in the North, it means a transition from summer to winter. During this period days start getting shorter and nights longer. Depending on where you live, you will likely have moderate warm days followed by long and cooler nights. Harvests of many crops often take place during the fall and in the old days you would make preparations to store food for the winter. Harvest festivals are very popular and in particular Halloween. Pumpkins begin appearing along with all kinds of Halloween decor culminating, of course, in All Hallows Eve (Halloween) on October 31.