Let There Be Light

Welcome to the first day of spring. Here comes the sun, punctual as ever. Spring feels new: a magic elixir that acts as both a tonic and a stimulant, soothing and energizing.

Spring’s arrival coincides with the Spring (Vernal) Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, when the center of the sun’s disk crosses the celestial equator south to north. On the two equinoxes, the world over, night and day are of equal length, and the sun rises due east and sets due west; plan accordingly. From now on, days will grow longer by two or three minutes, and nights commensurately shorter—until the Summer Solstice in late June, the longest day.

Our pagan ancestors regarded the Spring Equinox as the first day of the year, symbolizing the resurrection of the sun god from the underworld—the prerequisite for a season of growth, fertility, and regeneration. Ancient Egyptians revered the sun, Ra, as their principal deity.

The sun god’s annual reappearance was not taken for granted by our forebears who diligently practiced rituals, made plentiful sacrifices, and erected extraordinary edifices, such as Stonehenge, to observe and welcome the equinox.

What amazes me each spring is the astonishing radiance of the sun, each day rising higher above the horizon with increasing intensity, spectral quality, and directness. The sun powers spring’s extravaganza of early flowers, budding plants, scurrying field mice, and birdsong—the original “grow light”.

Humans are markedly affected by spring sunlight and shifting night/day lengths. Spring fever is for real. The changing daylight and altered sleep-wake cycle awakens our senses and boosts our mood, thanks to a timely reset by our inner clock of our brain’s levels of melatonin, mood-boosting serotonin, and dopamine.

Take advantage of one of these luminous spring days, and follow the sun into your own garden. As the equinox attunes you to the changing season, the garden extends you into the natural world. Your plants emerge, bud and flower in step with changes in light and warmth—a dance to the music of time.

Soon your world will expand, as you work in your garden in tandem with the sun. Think of it as your own astronomical social network. Happy spring.

A version of this article appeared in The Charleston Gazette-Mail, the Casper Star Tribune, The Daily Herald, The Day, and The Desert Sun

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 at 2:04 pm and is filed under Original Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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