This past Wednesday marked the autumnal equinox for 2021 where I'm situated. For those reading who might not be familiar with an equinox, it's considered a day in the year when day and night are very near equal. This usually amounts to the day when a location experiences close to an even split of 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. What makes it "autumnal" is that it happens in the season of Autumn (or Fall dependent on how you grew up learning about seasons). Despite this day not being a great indicator of an area's local climate, per se, it is generally observed as the "first day of autumn."
I have a certain fondness for fall. There's a warmth the word carries in contrast to the cooler temperatures that the season invites. Or at least that's how I've typically experienced the concept. It's the time of the year I'll start swapping out readily accessible shorts for readily accessible flannel pants. Short sleeves for long sleeves. Fireplaces become a actively used amenity where people have them, carrying a scent of wood through open chimneys into the air. And just about every food and drink shop breaks out the cinnamon, a notably "warm-flavored" spice in my book.
Of course, there's no reason these sensations have to be locked to autumn. Well, maybe you wouldn't opt for long-sleeves in summer, but fireplaces and cinnamon don't have to lose their flair in the winter, yet somehow they do. I could approach this from a branding cynicism where local shops want to entice you with new seasonal items, and the more they change with the seasons, the more opportunities they have to present you a novel experience for the year. There's certainly truth in that, but seasons weren't built for the human capitalist machine. No, that machine merely adopted seasonality. But did humans adopt them too? Are seasons an invention or a discovery of humanity?
Let's dive in!
When I was a kid, I loved to think about how things work. I distinctly recall being at book fairs and being unequivocally drawn to books about systems. In a way, the kinds of things I learn and write about here would probably have made child me very proud. I'd ask for books about how weather works, why volcanoes erupt, what causes earthquakes, and how to measure rainfall and wind speed. I, for whatever reason, really wanted to know how the world functioned, and enjoyed trying to understand some of the most complex topics I could get my hands on.
What's interesting about that mindset for kid me, though, is that I'd often learn what I wanted to learn and get immediately interested in the next question I could think to ask myself. Which, honestly, isn't all that surprising thinking that I wanted to learn all this stuff as a kid. It's like wanting the new shiny toy, but what I wanted was new shiny knowledge. The result is that I built up a lot a shallow knowledge about how things worked, effectively making myself a bit of a walking encyclopedia. It was fun to demonstrate that to people, but I found that I was essentially learning a ton of stuff, but never really applying it to anything.
Little did I know, this was the beginning of a narrative for my life up until now. One that guided how I liked to learn things and shaped my view of the world. I'd say I'm at the end of my story, but I'm certain my thinking will continue to evolve as time goes on. It always does. But I wanted to share this trajectory with you. After all, I have a feeling my thinking is not unique, and you might see yourself at various points of this journey yourself.
So, let's dive in!
Prismatic Planet wants to get excited for the planet, raise awareness of its inhabitants, and get smarter about Earth.