This year’s vernal equinox came and went while I was driving to work this morning. In fact, I was just passing the Carbondale, Kansas exit on U.S. 75 when the clock hit 6:44 AM CT… the official Vernal Equinox time for the Northern Hemisphere. Although I didn’t witness it, what really happened is that the sun was, for a split second, shining directly over the equator somewhere. And for those many of us who care, it is now officially spring.
Most folks think that the vernal equinox is a time when day and night are of equal lengths. And they are mostly right, but actual day length depends on where on earth you are located and in actuality the true period of equal day and night length occurs before the vernal equinox … but hey, when it comes to seasonal changes, who really cares about that kind of precision.
I look forward to the vernal equinox each year because it tells me that winter is passing. I was raised, and lived most of my life in places far more northerly than Kansas, so getting on with spring was a relief I anticipated for months.
As I walked the farm last evening, thinking about the impending vernal equinox, I couldn’t help but marvel at the new life all around me. From the cool-season grasses to the meadow daisies to the clovers, I could see that the prairie was coming back to life. Songbirds, birds of prey, wild turkey and bobwhite seemed to be celebrating. Even some of the most cautious of trees couldn’t help but pump enough sap create a glorious bud swell; the more optimistic species have already popped tender young leaves.
I know spring will come again next year, and the year after that. But to me this season is still nothing short of a lovely miracle.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.