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Possumhaw: The vernal equinox is upon us


Shannon Bardwell



Don't say spring has come until you can put your foot on nine daisies - folklore 




This very morning at 5:29 CDT the vernal equinox took place while some of us were sleeping. We in the northern hemisphere were officially ushered into spring while at the same time the southern hemisphere ventured into fall. The equinox happens at the same moment worldwide, regardless of time zones. The astronomical spring equinox varies annually between March 19 to 21.  


Today days and nights all over the world are approximately the same length of time because the two hemispheres are receiving the sun's rays about equally. The earth's tilt is zero relative to the sun. Increasingly, in our hemisphere, our days will grow longer as we have earlier dawns and later sunsets. 


An Internet picture of the earth showed exactly one hemisphere of the earth in darkness and one in light. It was thought-provoking and caused me to smile at how busy and preoccupied we get and rarely notice the magnificent happenings in our natural world. 


Meteorologically, the official day of spring was March 1, and it continues through May 31. Summer is June 1, fall is Sept. 1, and winter is Dec. 1. Meteorological seasons are divided into four quarters and are not dependent on positions of the earth, sun and moon. These divisions remain the same and are more useful for citing statistics of seasonal temperatures and weather conditions. Like reporting, "35 degrees was the recorded low on March 20, 2016." 


In our natural world, certain things happen as the seasons change. With spring worms emerge from the earth, birds migrate northward along with the path of the sun, insects and amphibians awaken and as sunlight increases, it triggers the birds to sing. 


I've noticed the birds singing from my bedroom window. They sing loud and clear, repeating the same song every morning. It's hard not to be happy in the morning with birds singing at your window. 


This has been a crazy few months with early spring-like temperatures, trees and flowers blooming, and then plummeting temperatures that cause heavier coats to come out of the closet and leave frost on your car's windshield.  


There's a name for the science of observing nature: phenology -- watching for signs in nature. The Old Farmer's Almanac founded in 1792 provided this equinox information: 


Blooming crocus are a cue to plant radishes, parsnips and spinach. 


Daffodils blooming is a signal for beets, carrots and chard. 


Forsythia indicates peas, onion sets and lettuce. 


Dandelions mean potatoes go in the ground. 


Perennials can be planted when the maple leaf out. 


Quince blooming means time for cabbage and broccoli. 


Lilacs in full bloom mean tender annuals and squash. 


Tomatoes only when the lily-of-the-valley is in full flower. 


Of course, everyone knows no matter what the weather looks like, no matter how warm it may get or how anxious the gardener, it's best not to plant before Good Friday in any given year.  



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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