The autumn equinox, the old-timey, nature-centered holiday in which the sun crosses the celestial equator doesn’t make it onto the radar for most of us. We may know it moreless coincides with the first day of fall (good-bye, summer!) but our minds and days get filled with work and errands and social activities, our to-do lists, texts and emails. My head certainly feels at risk of overflowing many days (though I want to state for the record, I still decline to text, critical consumer of technology that I am ).
I notice, though, that across time and place, when we humans do connect with nature, it brings us joy. Gardening (growing things) is one of the most popular pastimes in the U.S. Stroking our animals is proven to soothe us and bring down high blood pressure. Homebuyers pay tens of thousands extra to live in a well-treed, verdant neighborhood. Our beautiful national parks get so much use their roads are sagging under the strain.
How to celebrate the autumnal equinox coming up on September 23? I suggest we set aside our errand lists and endless emails. Slow down enough to take a walk in a verdant place. Water our plants and trees with more care and respect than usual. Step outside before bedtime to examine the moon that helps create our ocean tides. Find a sunset that rivals the one in the photo, taken on September 23, 2010 in Ohio.
I sound sentimental about nature, but I’m really not. Our sun, plants and the uniquely breathable atmosphere they create between them are the only things keeping us alive on this lovely, fragile planet. A little more important, I think, than the emails waiting for me when I start work at 8 a.m. Happy autumn equinox.