Back to Nature (Published on - Oct. 27, 2004)
A moment in time
Just last evening I walked through a pumpkin patch. Yesterday morning I swept fallen acorns from the balcony. The department stores are stocked with ghosts and goblins. The animal shelters have put a moratorium on adopting black cats. My hair dresser’s station was decorated with a skeleton’s boney hand reaching out of a black bowl of chocolates.

What does all this mean?

Oh yes. It’s fall in Florida. How else would we know? People are still walking about in shorts and tank tops. Our air conditioner still kicks in. Ice cream is included as one of my four basic food groups or is that a pyramid now? Because of our year-round tropical climate producing a continual veil of green foliage, we’re removed from nature’s seasonal cycles.

Who notices?

Our world is artificially illuminated all hours of the day. Shops are open round the clock. The sun comes up and the sun goes down, and our lights automatically click on to fill in the darkness. On the occasional evening, we saunter down to observe the sunset. It is seldom crowded on the beach and most often sparsely peopled.

We’ve become a progressive society unhindered by such things as seasons and sunsets. If you were to ask your co-workers and friends if they were aware we’d just passed the Autumnal Equinox, how would they respond? It hasn’t been so long that civilizations based time upon a cyclical calendar.

Between March and September (Vernal Equinox) the sun appears north of the equator. Between September and March (Autumnal Equinox) the sun appears south of the equator. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Autumnal Equinox will occur either on Sept. 22 or Sept. 23, depending on the earth’s position in a given year. This day also marks the beginning of autumn. The word equinox is derived from the Latin word aequinoctium (equal night). This season is also known as, fall. Until I researched this subject I had assumed “fall” referred to the falling of the fall leaves (and acorns), but on further pondering that particular phenomenon wouldn’t take place just everywhere in the world, so what did this expression refer to?

It seems that the ancient reference to fall, which is found in most cultures around the world, pertained to the sun falling below the equator.

Ancient and modern cultures associate this time with religious and spiritual connections. It is the season to reap what we’ve sown, good or bad, coming forth from a hopeful spring planting to the fruitful time of thanksgiving.

It is a time we long to be close with loved ones. Perhaps this is a natural, ancient instinct before winter would normally be upon us. Since day and night are once again equal, this cycle is believed to be a time that is in balance. Many cultures deem this a powerful time. The abundance of the harvest is present, but so are our senses in preparation for the dark winter and the death or deep sleep of nature and the arrival of a new millennium.

It is a cycle of change. Imagine our world without change. Our planet would not exist without change. Volcanoes and earthquakes create our atmosphere and are the birth places of a new earth. Imagine all our days and nights being the same length of time and imagine a world without any seasons.

As we proceed in our linear fashion in pursuit of progress to create our visions of a New World of space stations and villages upon other planets such as Mars, we might consider that to deny our reality places us in a perilous situation of alternate illusion. What will our quality of life be as humanity denies and pushes itself further from our natural elements in a world of unreality?

We’ve only been here on this earth for a short time and we’ve polluted her waters, cut down her trees, driven wildlife to extinction, soiled the air we breathe and poisoned our bodies.

What kind of planet do we pass on to our children?

We can try to understand and predict nature’s cycles and forces of the universe but we are only human. The Universe reminds us, through the awesome power of nature, that we are not the equalizers. Our simple goal might be to humbly live in harmony with our natural surroundings. For the sake of the future of humanity it might be wise if we all stopped for a moment from our linear duties to watch the cycle of the sunset and the full moon rise.

Karen can be reached at

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