Happy Autumnal Equinox, everyone! I do love these natural holidays, courtesy of the tilt of the Earth and its annual journey around the sun. We get four such holidays per year: two solstices, two equinoxes. How lucky we are!
Today, daylight and darkness are in perfect balance. Tomorrow, nighttime edges past day, growing steadily longer until we reach the winter solstice on December 21 — the longest night of the year, and my favorite natural holiday, as it marks the slow but welcome return of the sun!
Traditionally, the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon. This year, the two events fall on the very same date! For Native Americans and colonial farmers, the Harvest Moon was an ideal time to gather corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice from the fields. Under the light of the moon, the peak harvest could continue late into the night.
Though I love the moon, the sun has my heart. From babyhood, in fact — my first word beyond “mama” and “dada” was light!
In honor of the autumnal equinox, and in halting farewell to the sun, excerpts from this, a favorite poem:
One More Hymn to the Sun
You know that like an ideal mother
she will never leave you,
though after a week of rain
you begin to worry
but you accept her brief absences,
her occasional closed doors
as the prerogative
of an eccentric lover . . .
You like the fact that her moods are an orderly version of yours,
arranged, like the needs of animals,
by seasons: her spring quirks,
her sexual summers,
her steadfast warmth in the fall;
you remember her face on Christmas Day,
blurred, and suffused with the weak smile
of a woman who has just given birth
The way she loves you, your whole body,
and still leaves enough space between you
to keep you from turning to cinders
before your time! . . .
She never gave up on you
though it took you billions of years
to learn the alphabet
and the shadow you cast on the ground
changed its shape again and again
- Lisel Mueller, The Missouri Review, 2.1, Fall 1978