Thursday, March 20, 2008

Texas Bluebonnets, The First Day of Spring, and a Full Moon Rising

Location: Livingston, Texas

Click for Larger Image of Family Taking Photos in BlueBonnetsIn 1840, a four-year-old boy was buried in the town of Springfield, then a part of Mexico, by his parents Ursula and Moses Livingston Choate. In 1846, Mr. Choate donated 100 acres of nearby land to serve as the county seat of the newly created Polk County -- and Springfield was renamed Livingston in his honor. The site of his young son's grave became the Livingston Cemetery. Although the last burial took place in this cemetery in 1940, it is still active -- especially in spring when the bluebonnets cover huge areas of the old cemetery. I was visiting the cemetery to photograph the Texas State Flower, and saw several families taking pictures of their children in the midst of the blooms.

The families and children were not the only visitors to the bluebonnets. Bees, small flies, and a damselfly also were flitting around. This bee was especially cooperative as he visited flower after flower:

Click for Larger Image of Bee and Bluebonnets  Click for Larger Image of Bee and Bluebonnets

Spring is here! The vernal equinox is today, March 20. This is the date that the sun is directly over the equator, resulting in an approximately equal day and night. Spring begins now in the northern hemisphere, and autumn in the southern. Just as you can't more easily balance an egg on end on the Solstice, you can't do it at the Equinox either. Historically, many cultures have marked the position of the sun on this day - the Sphinx and Stonehenge are examples of structures that point towards the rising equinox sun. Many cultures have also equated the "return" of the sun with fertility or rebirth. Easter eggs, anyone?

Click for Larger Image of Equinox Full MoonThis year, the moon will be full just one day later, on March 21st. The belief that odd things happen more often during a full moon are just not supported when examined scientifically. More crimes are not committed, dogs are not biting indiscriminately, birthrates do not change, more of the mentally challenged are not sitting in the nation's emergency rooms, our hormones are not out of whack because the full moon is increasing "positive ions" in the air, and werewolves are not suddenly emerging from the mists of the moors.

The full moon does rise just as the sun is setting, so find a quiet place in the spring wildflowers and watch the sun set to the west as the moon rises in the east -- and enjoy the feelings of rebirth that the beginning of spring brings.

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