Bittersweet defined is a combination of both bitter and sweet – a feeling that is both happy and sad at the same time. This familiar emotion finds its way back to me each year, just as the first signs of Autumn find their way back to us all.
It’s my favorite time of year and always has been, flooding me with memories of autumns past. The smells of damp leaves and firewood, the crisp air that fills my lungs, the glorious colors that open my eyes to nature each year, and the sound of fallen leaves underfoot. My very favorite season.
The approaching September equinox called out to me today, as it does each year when the summer’s curtain draws to a close. Letting me know that fall is approaching and the time for winter is near. It’s sad to see the summer end, but also sweet to see the cycle complete.
There are two equinoxes every year – one in September and one in March. When the length of day and night is almost exactly equal all over the world, with seasons opposite on either side of the equator.
Derived from Latin, the word equinox means “equal night.” I explained this to my kids as I drove each one to school this morning, and as I do each year when the sun on the horizon nearly blinds me as if to awaken me from a summer’s sleep.
The autumn equinox happens each year, the moment the sun crosses the equator, always on September 22nd, 23rd or 24th. On any other day throughout the year, our planet tilts away or toward the sun. But not on each equinox, when the sun shines more directly upon us than any other days of the year, as if to remind us of our smallness in the universe.
Thirteen years ago on September 22nd, just before the autumnal equinox, my sister crossed over and left this world, just as the sun crosses over the equator. The sun was blinding her way that day, or maybe calling her toward it. It was also my mother’s birthday.
I’m really not sure what God and the universe had in mind that day, but I’m determined not to let it zap the gratitude out of me as I gear up for this month’s memories, filled each year with emotions, both happy and sad.
When I see the sun each morning so boldly reminding us of its presence near the horizon, I know it is a bittersweet reminder for me to plant the seeds of both appreciation and caution for all that is. Today I am grateful for the sun and all that she reminds me to be thankful for.