The flow of the seasons has taken on a different feel over the past year and a half. Children spent months at home instead of in the classroom, so spring break and summer vacation felt no different from any other time. Adults didn’t leave home for days or weeks at a time, so conditions outdoors made little difference to the routine. And busy downtowns closed up, so they looked deserted regardless of the time of year.
We mention all of that because today is the first full day of autumn in the northern hemisphere. It’s the time of the equinox, as the Sun crosses the equator from north to south. Over the next three months, it’ll move even farther south, so we’ll see shorter, cooler days.
The equinoxes and solstices mark the starting points of the astronomical seasons. They’re convenient points for marking the seasons because they’re precise and easy to predict.
But there are many other ways to mark the changing seasons. The meteorological season, for example, began on September 1st. And in centuries past, some cultures used the equinoxes and solstices as the mid-points of the seasons, not the beginnings. These cultures picked various dates for these markers, so there was no common way to mark the seasons.
And in modern times, we’ve marked the seasons by school and work calendars, vacation schedules, and other everyday events. COVID scrambled those cycles — making it a bit harder to follow the rhythms of the seasons.
Tomorrow: radio outbursts by the hundreds.
Script by Damond Benningfield