It’s officially spring, which means something special for me: I’m another quarter-year older. I was born on the winter solstice, so I measure my age by counting solstices and equinoxes. I find it strangely comforting to use these ancient milestones to mark the passage of time, since it connects me to each generation back to the savanna-wanderers and cave-dwellers, who surely wondered at the transit of constellations across the hemisphere of the sky. Who among them was the first to name and anthropomorphize the stars? Who noticed the connection between the stars and the blooming of certain flowers and the fertility cycles of certain animals? We’ll never know, but we nevertheless profit from their wisdom.
Are we any less thrilled when we glimpse the first winter aconite through a blanket of snow than our ancestors were a millennium ago? I doubt it. Artist Muriel Dawson (1897-1974) captured the same feeling in her painting about 90 years ago:
And artist Sybil Barham illustrated the excitement of the first flush of spring with the help of words from poet Percy Bysshe Shelley about a century ago:
In a world that sometimes seems to travel faster than the speed of light, I sometimes need to pause and remind myself that nature measures time in geologic ages, not in nanoseconds. And each of us has her time and season.