• Bill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 3-18-22 – Moving Through the Equinox



The festival of the spring equinox speaks of freshness and youth, of excitement and endless possibilities. Nature begins to quicken and early flowers open to the warmth of the strengthening sun, bringing the colours of lemon and yellow

into our lives on the wings of a March wind.” ― Carole Carlton


I am trying to recall the first time I really understood buds on trees were already formed as the season shifts to winter. They are so tiny then, barely noticeable. I used to first become aware of them in late winter when they get pretty big. I think about those buds and other subtle signs of the shifting of the seasons and try to keep an eye out for them now. I look forward to that day in the spring when everything pops. The world turns green again so quickly. Yet the truth is that that process actually started months ago, when the final hue of gold came off the trees.


What can the lesson be for the human experience of how trees are already preparing to burst back into life as they lose their leaves in the Fall? The trees can get through the harsh days of winter, knowing that spring is next, and they are ready for the return of the sun. Prepped for life even as the days shorten a full season earlier. Reflecting on this can be therapeutic for me. The knowledge that even as things go dark in life, often the next cycle is already moving forward in ways I can’t always see. I have to trust the process; it is bigger than I.


Weeks ago, I started to notice the battle between winter and spring playing out in full force, even before the “bomb cyclone” followed by 60 F days. Snow and sun advanced and retreated every few days. Even on the brutal cold days, it was clear to see that the angle of the sun was changing. The winner of this dance was never in question. But winter had a few blasts remaining in its arsenal before it fell into full retreat. Old man winter has left the stage in a flurry of drama.


We made it through the winter, the time of planting and growing is upon us. Bright greens will soon burst forth across the landscape, and bird species and friends who fly to Florida for the winter are returning. This year, we may well also be emerging from the long winter of the pandemic in full. We can cast off our masks and spend time nurturing our own lives through connection to others. Our roots have withered some during these days, months and years. It is time to put them back down into the soil of community to anchor ourselves more firmly and strengthen our connect with others.


I am planning my weekend jaunts into nature, weekly doses of sustenance to get me through each week. I shall look for small bugs on the undersides of leaves, birds in the sky and frogs in the swamp, just as I did at 12, but perhaps at a slower pace. The Spring is a time of discovery, and I am determined to keep my child’s eye alive. Life is bursting forth. The world is still filled with wonder, what can change is our inquisitiveness to look for it. I don’t want to lose mine.


I am also thinking today of Callanish, considered the second most important stone circle in the world. It was constructed in a figure 8 pattern starting around 2,700 BC, during the Bronze Age. Julie and I visited it in 1998. I recall the ferry trip to the Outer Hebrides and crossing the Minch to get there. We did several quests to Scotland searching out stones, cairns and defensive structures called broches. Callanish was an ancient calendar, and they could mark the equinox by tracking the suns analemma, similar to how a sun dial works as explained here by a NASA Post about Callanish. This week, if one was standing at that place of ancient history and wonder, one could mark that we are halfway to the zenith, the point in summer where the days are longest. The point in which the sun is at its highest point in northern hemisphere skies.


I often find myself writing about the seasons and observing these cycles of the year. They are larger than us and remind me that we are all part of this cycle in ways we often don’t pay a lot of attention. We have seasons of life as well. While we don’t repeat cycles, we get to see others in different stages of their cycle. I find myself smiling at young people in a way that I did not understand in that era of my life. I am excited for them and the process of growth and discovery that they are now in. I can also better appreciate some of the things that those in their later years have seen over many decades. I appreciate the wisdom of their perspectives a little more each year as I advance in my own lifecycle.


One of the things that has changed is my perception of time. When I was a child, seasons would go on forever and the future seemed limitless, without a horizon. Seasons move more quicky now. I can glimpse that horizon now. It may be close; it may still be relatively far. It is impossible to tell for sure. In the measure of a life, the yard stick says I have fewer ahead than I do behind me. I can miss the glory of now if I am not careful. This makes each day more special, not less so.


I am grateful I have made it through another winter of life. It had some special moments. I am grateful for the season ahead and the opportunity to spend more time outdoors. I am grateful that I have been given so many seasons in life. I am grateful that this Spring, it is likely that we will have less social isolation than the prior two. What are you grateful for today?

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