For several weeks now I have been looking for my first robin, the first crocus, or that first truly warm breeze brushing across my face. I have been looking for spring. Spring has been a topic of conversation at the market, in the news, and on walks through the woods. I am being teased by a bit more daylight, the warmth of the sun through the window, song birds singing in the trees and a bit of green here and there. Spring is and has been a cause for celebration for centuries…we are by no means the first to feel the joy.
It is the fourth dimension, time that brings us cause for the seasons . The concept of time came to ancient peoples as they realized patterns in nature. The first lessons were in the motions of the stars, next earthly activities such as migrations. A day equals one sun and one moon. The month is new moon to new moon. Each flooding of the Nile occurred yearly. Keeping track of time is important for human survival. When do we plant? When do we migrate? When should we begin storing food?
Devices to measure time were created to predict answers to these questions enhancing the chances of survival. These devices ranged from tally marks etched into bones to atomic clocks. We have discovered and are in awe of many of the ancient time pieces such as Stonehenge, Chaco Canyon Spirals in New Mexico, and my very favorite, the pyramids at Chichen Itza, Mexico to name a very few.
I have had the pleasure of visiting the Chichen Itza pyramids. The Mayans built these structures in 1000 AD to support a place of worship. The walls of the pyramids were built at a very steep angle forcing the climber to bend over in a bowing position as he or she ascended. At either side of the base of the steps are large serpent heads mouths opened wide. In the Mayan culture the serpent brings all life to Earth. There are marvelous stone carvings of serpents with flowers, butterflies and birds flowing out of their mouths. The pyramid is positioned in such a way that on the first day of spring at noon a shadow descends from the top of the structure to the serpents head forming a complete body….it is time to plant.
Spring has always been an important marker as it is seen as a time of rejuvenation, rebirth, or new beginnings. There always seems to be excitement in having a fresh start. Festivals mark spring world wide.
The scientific name for spring is the Vernal Equinox or March Equinox. Equinox is Latin for equal night. On this day there will be equal hours of daylight and night time darkness. The exact day of the equinox varies from year to year between the days of March 19th and 21st. This year spring begins on March 20th at 12:20 EST the earliest spring recorded since 1896.
Meteorologists divide the seasons into groups of three months, spring being the months of March, April and May. Ecologists feel spring arrives when the hardy flowers such as daffodils, tulips, and crocuses appear, the soil can be smelled and the animals become active.
The astronomer tells a different story. In reference to the sun the Earth tilts at a 23 degree angle. As the Earth orbits around the sun the hemispheres are tilted toward or away from the sun. When the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun it is winter as it tilts toward the sun it is summer. The transition times are autumn and spring.
Living in the northern portion of the northern hemisphere I have begun to see many signs of new beginnings. My first was the yellow crocus in the flower bed next to the porch. The daffodils are poking through the ground. The robins are back with their chubby red breasts and waddle. The tree branches are less defined with buds plumping and buckets hung in the sugar bush. The sun is visible…..something to get used to in Michigan after 59 cloudy winter days. The squirrels and chipmunks are busy under the bird feeders.
Peek out your back door and watch the marvelous re-birthing of the Earth. It will bring you joy.