It’s the southern hemisphere equinox at 3.30 pm today, the moment when the earth is exactly half way on its journey round the sun between the short shadow full face to the sun days of midsummer, and the long shadow late mornings and early evenings of midwinter.
In gardening terms, it’s time to start planting things that need the threat of winter to persuade them to store food- garlic and onions, cabbage and turnips, celeriac and cauliflower. There’s a whole set of posts about what I plant, in northern NSW, this time of year at Early Autumn Planting. It will be different in your part of the world but the concepts are the same – with a few exceptions like broad beans, it will be plants that hunker down and store food to see them through till the lengthening days signal good times ahead and time to seed. Except by that time, they will be harvested and eaten.
It’s also time to start thinking about firewood and crafts and good books and the idea of balance. The spring equinox I think of as being about balance by planting and growing, but the autumn equinox is about balance by harvesting and culling.
I don’t usually like winter much. The days are too short, the quality of the light is wrong, I have to wear boots. I like the long days of summer when you can do so much in a day. But I think maybe this year I need winter. Some time contemplating the bare framework without all the leaves and flowers and fruit that can hide as well as yield. Some time to sift what is important out of the ongoing urgent, to cull and whittle.
The equinoxes and solstices, and the cross quarter dates midway between them, are wonderful calendar markers. A reminder to that it is useful to step back from the daily flurry every so often and let the philosophical have a moment. So that is my philosophical autumn equinox musing – cull and prune so the framework is strong enough for the load.