The vernal equinox is finally here! After a long, dark Seattle winter full of freak snow storms, I am so ready. It’s easy to understand why this day has been celebrated across cultures for thousands of years. The literal translation of equinox is “equal night.” At 11:44 Universal Time on March 20, 2009, the sun passes directly over the equator, resulting in a 24 hour period during which the balance of day and night is about equal across the earth. As we welcome spring this day, it’s intriguing to remember that in the Southern hemisphere, people are getting ready for the cooler autumn season.
The promise of the Spring Equinox is fertility-in-waiting, and two of its primary symbols are the egg, and the seed. After a nice egg salad sandwich, consider celebrating by grabbing a kid (or a friend, or a lover, or a neighbor, or some much-needed alone-time), and planting some seeds. Here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a great day to sow sweat peas (we are planting mainly vegetables in are garden beds, but who can resist fragrant spring sweet peas?) This year, flouting the conventional wisdom that sweet peas should be planted in north-south rows, we are making a sweet pea teepee (partly for spatial reasons, and partly because it’s so darn fun to say). A vining, climbing variety is planted close to the poles, while bush variety seeds are planted around the edge, where they can eventually lean on the taller, trellised plants for a little support.
If you live in an apartment, and have no bit of earth (or even if you do), the equinox is a perfect day to share the love with a little guerilla gardening–scatter some carefree flower seeds in a colorless corner of your neighborhood, or a forgotten city space. Cornflowers (also called bachelor buttons), can take care of themselves quite well, as can calendula, and nigella. If they survive, they’ll re-seed–and you can enjoy your secret super-hero identity as a sower of delight for years to come.
For serious inspiration, check out Guerillagardening.org.
Can you really balance an egg vertically on the equinox? Well, yes–IF you have the right shaped egg, lots of patience, and a bit of luck. But not any better than you can any other day. Don’t let that keep you from trying!