Today is the first full day of spring in Menlo Park; the vernal equinox occurred yesterday at precisely 10:32 am PDT. A quick check of facts reminds us that while we automatically herald this occurrence as the signal for warmer weather to come, it actually has more to do with astronomy than the changing seasons. “Equinox” means “equal night,” and the Sun is positioned above the equator equally day and night in length during the equinoxes. (The autumnal equinox will occur this year on September 22 at 8:09 pm PDT.)
That we have seasons is due to the Earth’s 23.4 degree tilt. If it rotated on an axis perpendicular to the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, there would be no seasonal variations and the resulting temperature fluctuations.
All that science aside, the advent of spring is expressed with rituals associated with a variety of faith traditions. Pagans celebrate Ostara while Christians mark Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Nowruz, the Persian New Year, is rooted in Zoroastriansim.
All these facts are an excuse for us to show off some delicate spring blossoms spotted in a West Menlo neighborhood and a blaze of vibrantly-colored flowers for sale by Half Moon Bay nursery Cozzolino this morning at the Farmer’s Market.
Spring blossom photo by Chris Gulker