The times, they are a-changin’ … again

Well, actually, the “times” aren’t changin’—the clocks are. This is the first year of the new schedule for the daylight savings time shift. Wow, it seems early, doesn’t it?

Even though there are signs of seasonal change lurking under the piles of graying snow, it still feels like the dead of winter to me. But along about the middle of March there is a springtime shift that is obvious to everyone around the world. Some time near March 20 (and again in the fall) the sun appears directly over the equator. That’s not technically exact, but it’s close enough for most of us. The day and night are roughly equal as well.

As we in the northern hemisphere move past that day, the Earth’s orbit and its axial tilt lean us toward the sun, and our days begin to get longer. This year, that shift may feel earlier to us, as we move our watches and clocks forward before going to bed tonight.

True, the sun will appear to rise a bit later, but that extra hour of sunlight at night is what we notice most. Sunday night it will be nearly 7:00 when the sun sets, and no matter what the temperature is outside, that feels a lot like spring.

I really begin celebrating the coming of the light in December, at the winter solstice. I know the nights will continue to be longer than the days for months, but increasing sunlight is important to me, and I pay close attention as daylight slowly gains ground against the night. The equinox marks the “great turning” from longer nights to longer days. We’re passing into the season of days, and that is worth celebrating.

Easter was placed quite intentionally in this season, marking the return of the “son”, of the Great Light on Earth. The word “Easter” comes from the root meaning womb (oestrus), and the Christian observance was placed here partly to Christianize the pagan celebration around fertility and new life.

Oddly (to those of us north of the equator), our neighbors in the southern hemisphere of Earth are witnessing life heading into dormancy, not bursting into new life. Easter “down under”, for example, marks the turn from wild abundance to the brown dryness of winter.

It would be good for us to remember both aspects of life: burgeoning fecundity and quiet inactivity. We—the whole Earth—need both to be healthy and whole.

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