. . . and the day wanes.
I was this many years old when I noticed that the vernal and autumnal equinoxes don’t land on the same-numbered day. I had them both in my head as the 21st (of March and September, respectively), but it is not so.
Perhaps I was confused by the solstices both being on the 21st of their respective months? Nope. The summer solstice is June 21; the winter solstice is December 22. I just don’t pay attention. (If you would like to know more, here’s an excellent resource, complete with quiz. I’ll post your scores if you send them to me.)
Sidebar: The 2024 vernal equinox will be on March 19 (not like, oh I don’t know, March 21). Quick Google answers to the question of why the date varies talk about the discrepancy between the sidereal and calendar years. Thus, they announce definitively, the equinox gets 6 hours later year to year. Unless there’s an intervening Leap Year, I guess, which throws it all off-kilter. Maybe? In any event, on we go, trusting that the equinox calculators and the solar system itself know what they’re doing.
As I write this wee confessional, we are 12 hours into fall, the 2023 version. The equinox hit at 0250 Eastern Time today. Outside, our ongoing twenty-something daytime highs speak confidently but falsely of summer; the single-digit nighttime lows whisper subversively of fall. “Sweater weather” they call it on the local radio station. A Saskatchewan farmer deep into harvest tweets about forgetting the bunnyhug overnight in the combine: It’s absolutely needed in the early AM, but unwelcome by noon.
On the back roads of the countryside, the leaves have started to fade to grey-green; to turn to brown, yellow, orange-red, or scarlet; or to drop altogether, according to their nature. Just back from a 55-years-after-graduation reunion (Not mine, dagnab it!) (Not yet.) I know just how the leaves feel. We, too, are starting to fade, turn, and drop.
In the meantime, the poets and historians of the world are acting according to their own natures. This thread includes some history, poetry, medieval graphic art, and photography. Happy hærfestlice emniht to you and yours. Enjoy it as it comes, whenever it comes. Heck, enjoy everything. After all, the night lengthens.
The Old English word for equinox is 'emniht', from efen + niht, when night and day are evenly balanced. Today is the 'hærfestlice emniht', autumnal equinox; after this (as Byrhtferth of Ramsey puts it) 'langað seo niht and wanað se dæg', 'the night lengthens and the day wanes'… pic.twitter.com/BEukulzxJQ
— Eleanor Parker (@ClerkofOxford) September 23, 2022