Vernal Equinox

After that amazing moon on Saturday, we had the first day of spring, at least I think we did. My diary said we did, and so did a little googling, but a lot of ‘Happy Spring!’ messages came through on the 21st.  It doesn’t matter, since it’s not the first day of spring at all, but mid-spring.

There is a turning point when things stop dying in the garden and start to grow again, and that’s in January. Some say that spring begins with Candlemas at the beginning of February. Certainly having spring begin at the end of March is a bit odd when three months later it is midsummer.

Nevertheless Equinox is special and today on Facebook people have been celebrating going without socks and hanging their washing on the line. It is that moment when everything greens, which I wrote about on my gooseways blog a couple of days ago, what Hildegard of Bingen called ‘viriditas’.

Some years ago I was advised to write only for 6 months of the year. I found it such useful advice that I’ve stuck to it. Writing sucks you dry. It makes the hands of the clock spin round. It removes hours from the day when you’re not looking. It makes you tell lies, get deceitful and not a little bit selfish: ‘No, I can’t come to supper, I’m not feeling so good.’ ‘No, I can’t visit you, I’m sorry.’ ‘Have a happy reunion, sorry I can’t make it.’ And where am I? Prone (or is it supine?) beneath that succubus who eats my time.

I’d never had a garden, a proper garden, before we moved here ten years ago. If you think writing is rapacious, try gardening! The plants don’t care what you’ve got on, they want to be sown now, pricked out now, potted on now, watered now, weeded now, picked now, eaten NOW.

Happily, gardening, at its most intense, only last six months, between the equinoxes. So that’s what I do, lead a Persephone life, writing in the winter and growing things in the summer. Today I celebrated the Vernal Equinox by hanging out my washing on the line, including many socks which, with luck, won’t be required again until autumn. I’d woken up feeling fresh and free, having finished A Gift for a Magus on Saturday. After the celebratory laundry, it was the celebratory muck-out of the summerhouse. That, too, leads a Persephone life, in reverse to mine. In the winter it’s a garden store and where I keep all the seeds and the onions, shallots etc. In the summer, it’s my reading place, and so I mucked it out, yea, even unto mopping the floor, ready to get my nose into the pile of books which has been building over the last few months.

I learnt once that the name for a cave or a dark, creative place is a Plutonium, derived from the name of the king of the underworld. That has unhappy connotations right now, but it is still the right name for my hideaway hut. Who knows what thoughts will generate there over the summer? Perhaps even an idea for the next book will be born.

Actually, the birth of ideas is not a problem. I already have ideas about the School of Chartres in the 10th century, Philip Sidney’s Arcadia in the 16th, Pythagoras, Kepler, the list goes on. What I don’t get are ideas which grow, which take me over, possess me. That’s what I’m waiting for, the idea which will worry me like a puppy with a slipper, and make me tell everyone lies about why I’m unavailable, at least for six months of the year.

Right now, socks off but mind the toads, and let’s get reading.

2 thoughts on “Vernal Equinox

  1. Brilliant, Linda! I love the idea of exchanging the air, sunshine, reading and gardening of the lighter half of the year, for the pipe-smoke, fireside, writing and draught-proofing of the darker half. I’d better get down to my allotment!
    Hang on a bit, though… this doesn’t mean, does it, that we have to wait six months to read new entries on your blog? Surely not!

  2. Thanks, David! No, it doesn’t mean I stop writing blogs; in fact, they are almost bound to increase. It’s just a shift of emphasis or priorities. On this gloriously sunny day today I’m alternative pottering in the garden with sitting in the Plutonium utterly engaged with Prince Charles’s book ‘Harmony’. Have you read it? I think he’s emerging as a major writer of our times – utterly amazing. So I go from Pythagoras to flowerpot-washing in a syncopated fashion, learning through his wisdom that these things are mysteriously related.

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