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The Autumnal Equinox

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Vernal Equinox

Scooter is perplexed by this curious sight.

I once heard a talk show on the radio in which the idea was put forth that, on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, it is possible to balance an unsupported egg on a smooth, flat surface.  Intrigued, I went home and with all the family gathered around, I began to try to balance an egg.  My hand was not particularly steady and it took me about ten minutes to accomplish this task.  My husband did it in less than three.  Within a few minutes, there were close to a dozen eggs perched on various surfaces in the kitchen and dining room.  The camera flashes left red dots dancing in my field of vision.  The talk show host posited that the closer to the exact moment where the ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect, the easier it would be to balance the egg. The dates of March 21 and September 23 are usually acknowledged as the equinoxes.  On those two days, there are twelve hours of sunlight and twelve hours of nighttime.  However, this year marks the earliest equinox since 1896.  There are various rituals that mark the beginning of spring in my family.  The Easter decorations come out of the plastic bins in which they have been hiding for over eleven months.  In spring, a wreath of silk dahlias goes on the front door.  Pansies are planted in the large planters at the end of the driveway. In the fall, pumpkins and gourds decorate the entry and big bowls of fresh red apples grace the dining room and living room tables.  Despite these apparent differences, both the vernal and autumnal equinoxes share the ritual of balancing eggs.  Truth be told, I have developed a growing suspicion that it might might possible to do this egg trick on ANY day of the year regardless of the position of the ecliptic and celestial equators. However, I am sufficiently superstitious about not messing with rituals that I have never tried to test this theory. Thus, we come to the tired, but true aphorism that, “Sometimes, it is better to  leave well enough alone.”
A symbol of the Vernal Equinox.

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