Just recently, on September 22, we marked the beginning of fall with the Autumnal Equinox. So, what’s an equinox and what does this mean for us?
The Old Farmer’s Almanac website noted, “During the equinox, the Sun crosses what we call the ‘celestial equator’ — an imaginary extension of Earth’s equator line into space. The equinox occurs precisely when the Sun’s center passes through this line. When the Sun crosses the equator from north to south, this marks the autumnal equinox; when it crosses from south to north, this marks the vernal equinox.”
Starting on this day, the sun will begin to rise later in the day, and darkness comes sooner, that is until the Winter Solstice, when the opposite occurs — which you can also celebrate as the return to light.
In many traditions, this day marks the beginning of the season to give thanks. It’s a time to bring in the harvest, preserving some of it for the dark and cold of winter. Here in Bucks County it is often a time of apples and pumpkins! It’s a great time to take a hike and admire the changing colors of nature.
For the creatures we share the planet with this is also a time of preparing for winter. Squirrels cache their acorns and other nuts, mammals grow their winter coats and feast on the many ripening seeds, nuts and fruits to increase their fat stores to help them survive the cold weather to come. Birds, butterflies and others begin their long migration journeys. Reptiles and amphibians search for a safe place to pass their period of torpor, different than true hibernation but similar in that their biological processes slow down. Chemical changes take place in their bodies to enable them to survive freezing temperatures.
This year, thanks to Eagle Scout candidate Chance Trammel we are able to provide a secure location for our local snakes to pass the winter in the newly constructed hibernaculum. Be sure to check it out the next time you come to visit!