Tipping Towards Fall: The Autumnal Equinox

September 23, 2023

Science Literacy Week is almost over – almost, but not quite! There’s still time to get some free science-y goodness in your life, so hop on over to the Science Literacy Week website to learn about last-minute events happening near you.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, today marks another ending… it’s the autumnal equinox, which means summer is officially over. That doesn’t mean a whole lot for me, weather-wise – this is southern Ontario, and my rose bushes will be blooming into November. But today is a day of transition, all the same – the tipping point, the liminal space between the freedom and expansion of summer and the hermitting I inevitably resort to as the cold and darkness of winter settle into my bones.

But whether today marks an ending or a beginning is really a matter of perspective. Or, more precisely, geography. After all, today is also the day that the sun rises at the South Pole for the first time since March: it’s the first day of spring. Which means that, if you’re a penguin, things are starting to look up. In fact, Adélie penguins are celebrating the turning of the seasons – as I type this, males have returned to their breeding colonies and are busy building nests in hopes of enticing females.

They build them out of stones. Which I personally would not enjoy sitting on for several weeks, but hey – at least it keeps your egg (and your tailfeathers) out of the icy spring meltwater!

How do you celebrate the shifting seasons? Are you a “Hooray for pumpkin spice!” person or a “Dear God, where did I put my sweater?” person? I’d love to hear your stories.

Want to know more about the Antarctic equinox? Polar: Wildlife at the Ends of the Earth is available at bookstores and libraries near you.

Teacher friends! Celebrate the season by booking an author visit. I’ve got STEM programs and writing programs for kids and adults alike: contact me to learn more.


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