In earlier times, the vernal equinox was considered the beginning of the New Year. It has always been an important day to those who work the land because it signifies the beginning of the season of regeneration and growth. We can empathize with the ancients’ joy at the resurrection of the sun god from the underworld. It’s spring! The thought makes me want to work in the yard, soak up the sun, and be outside all day.
Folklore has it that the vernal equinox is the only day of the year when an egg can stand on its end. Even though that’s not true, we can admire the imagery. Eggs are, in fact, nature’s symbol for springtime and new beginnings. In March, when life is quickening in its seemingly miraculous annual way, we can’t help but ponder the cosmic egg of creation. Our newly hatched world is green, new, fresh, and as innocent as the dawn.
The length of the calendar year doesn’t quite correspond with that of the solar year; the first day of spring varies from March 19 to March 21.
Daylight Saving Time now begins on the second Sunday of March each year and ends on the first Sunday of November. Easter, which falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the equinox, is March 27th in 2016.
In February, many of us are still winter’s captive, so we plan, wait, and listen for the song of the lark, which heralds good luck and good weather. We can go outside to lift that first shovelful of dirt or turn our compost pile.
In March, on the other hand, spring is official no matter what the weather report says. Spring arrived this year on Sunday, March 20, 2016. That’s the vernal equinox, the time that the sun crosses the Earth’s equator from south to north and one of only two times in the year when day and night are equal in length. (The vernal equinox doesn’t fall on the same day every year)
In early spring, frost may still cling to the windows in the morning, but we can feel the promise of a new season in each passing day. Almost imperceptibly, the sun warms, the day lengthens, and the air seems pure and thin as it takes on the scent of freshly turned soil, emerging green, and soft rains. Spring is a time of awakening, of healing and renewal, of the dawning and planting of new ideas. The world seems young and vital again.
Following spring is summer which consists of hot steamy days as well as warm nights and the spring planting is in full bloom. June and July are also good times to start seeds for perennials and biennials to bloom next spring. You can sow seeds in a protected seedbed and then transplant seedlings in fall to overwinter, then bloom, ensuring of a wonderful spring greeting in the garden next year.