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EQUINOX
September 22, 2005
 
What an odd time of year -- the commuters are up and on the road before the birds have really gotten around to much. It is darker in the mornings now, and birds think more in terms of light than of time. They don't really know about time.

The commuters do, though. An insistent buzz not heard in nature summons them into the new day long before there is any light outside to second the motion. They open one eye and stare at the radio, willing it to say anything other than what it says: it is time to get up and go to work. But soon they are up and out.

The rhythm of modern work is the opposite of the ancient one: work in the northern hemisphere is gearing up for a busy season now, the season of classes and exams, of closing out the third quarter and then the year, a season of buying and selling. In the old days things were slowing down: the harvest in and safely stored, the colder, darker days bringing everyone indoors together, where the work was not as much about new things as about old things: repairing fishing nets, chairs, baskets, the underarms of shirts. Carving a new ax handle to replace the one you broke. Hearing the animals who would spend the winter on sweet straw in the stable below you, snuffling and lowing to each other, just a ladder away from you and yours.

We defy the sensible old rhythms, turning on our bright lights to extend the working day into the dark, insisting on making our busiest time of year the time when it is hardest to get around, the time when nature itself seems to command rest. In the animal and plant kingdoms, everyone but us gathers strength during the winter: we spend ours down to nothing.

We will emerge into the spring, pale and exhausted, longing for our vacations. At last, we will slow down and rest. Just when everyone else gets busy.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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