I Do Declare: The Autumnal Equinox is upon us and it’s time to turn, turn, turn

As soon as the calendar says it’s September, I start getting impatient for autumn.

When we close the books on August, effectively saying “seeeee-yaaa” to summer, what’s needed right then is a celebratory moment (especially as 9/1 is my unofficial new year).

Why wait? What else is there to do but bring out the pumpkins and winter scarves and apple cider?

Yes, autumn is my favorite, but there’s something elegant and serene about the changing of all the seasons.

Unlike calendar months, with their brusque starts and ends (Not ready for October? Too bad, it’s here.), seasons get eased into.

Introspection and meditation abound. Journal books get filled with thoughts of what has passed and hopes of what will come.

The chill of winter thaws before a flourishing spring that lounges its way through summer until it gears up for the autumn harvest, which gives way to the chill of winter … and so on.

And each season has its own distinct personality. The poets and writers have always known this and have metaphored* the heck out of them. (*Grammarcat will forgive me for verbing “metaphor.”)

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York. (Shakespeare, from “King Richard III”)

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. (Alfred Lord Tennyson, from “Locksley Hall”)

Summertime and the living is easy. (George Gershwin, from “Porgy and Bess”)

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
(Shakespeare, from “Sonnet 18”)

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. (Albert Camus)

Trivia time: equinox and solstice

The seasons are also known by their equinox or solstice status.

The equinox (from the Latin meaning “equality of day or night”) occurs twice a year, at the onset of spring and autumn. In each case, the sun crosses the equator and makes daytime and nighttime roughly equal. The spring equinox (or vernal equinox) occurs around March 21, and the autumnal equinox (or September equinox) occurs around September 22 or 23.

The solstice (from the Latin solstitium, made up of sol – “the sun” – and sistere – “to make stand still”) represents the exact moment when the sun reaches its northernmost point (June 21, the summer solstice and the longest day of the year) or southernmost point (December 22, the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year).

Another turn around the sun

Besides their Latin language background and an opportunity for contemplation, the changing of the seasons also serves as reminders – primarily that life is cyclical.

The reminders are inherent, like the air we breathe. To acknowledge or study or attempt to control them, we must draw attention to them. And in doing so, we see that their truths are eternal:

  • That time is fleeting – and increasing in speed. The days stretch out, weeks drag on, months take forever. Finally a year has passed. Then you notice that today is the first day of autumn, except that yesterday summer was starting and a week earlier than that you were heralding the start of spring and that was practically minutes before you felt the first nips of winter. If nothing else, the changing of the seasons reminds us that time moves on – but it does not stop.
  • That this too shall pass. Or as it happens in some years (2020 especially), these too shall pass. As mentioned above, time does move on. And there are times when we are so glad that it does. We all have moments – well, more like days, weeks, months – when we’ve been pushed to the limit. The seasons remind us that often things happen only for a season and that in time, things will change. Thank goodness!
  • That there’s a season for everything. Sometimes no matter what you do, you can’t make it work. Then later, without much effort, the whole thing comes to fruition. What was that about? Just this: Things happen in their season. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 goes into this in great detail. So does the 60s band, The Byrds, with their hit, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Whichever version you choose, it’s really the same message. When it’s time, it’ll happen.

Tomorrow is the first day of autumn. The Autumnal Equinox. A nip in the air. Time for bonfires and oyster roasts and hot chocolate.

I’m ready.