The first day of autumn is just another day, but equinoxes and solstices bring out a little of the Druid in me. Or, perhaps that’s the fluid in me. I’ll be right back.
Predictability of the sun’s relationship to our planet was figured out in the dim recesses of our existence. Mankind recorded and pondered the sun’s crossing of the equator and maximum latitudinal progress for thousands of years, arriving at valid conclusions without scientific data.
Our little old ancestors formed religions and built monuments based upon our planet’s movements relative to the sun without having a clue about stars, or planetary and solar system mechanics. They extrapolated accurate prediction models based solely upon observations.
I find such close connections to surroundings amazing, given the fact I routinely get lost in department stores. We moderns think we’re "connected" by virtue of a few hundred friends on Facebook or a few thousand followers on Twitter.
The ancients connected with each and every observable part of their world from aurora to zebra. They related animal and bird behaviors to weather patterns. I must connect to Skip Waters.
Cause and effects observed year after year, century after century created quite a wealth of knowledge independent of written languages or Google. But in the interest of honesty, know that my appreciation of our ancestors stops at my doctor’s office.
I don’t envy their lot by any means. I enjoy modern insulation from the rigors of nature. Give me my air conditioning, warm clothing, solid houses and vaccination scars. My comfort puts me out of sync with the planet, but all "syncs" aren’t created equal.
So here we are passing another Stonehenge and Machu Picchu moment. Fall is upon us as spring hits Australia. Only the dimmest of persons aren’t somewhat fascinated by our walnut-shell hemispheres where opposites roam.
Our fall is their spring, our summer their winter. Our counter-clockwise vortex in bathtubs is their clockwise evacuation flows. On their TV weather maps, our "H" is their "L." If I get lost in our desert the coriolis force will cause me to wander in opposite spirals as I would in the Outback.
Autumn is a particularly wonderful season here on our coast. Flounder fishing starts peaking as water cools. Finger mullet will soon stream southward just outside the breakers. King mackerel will set reels screaming.
Fall jump-starts nature’s seasonal migrations using roadmaps nature downloaded into her creatures before any of "my" people even walked upright. I know it’s corny, but the sky I see at night is almost an exact duplicate of that all of my human ancestors saw when they looked up.
My view is sanitized and compartmentalized by the works of Newton, Einstein, Galileo, Kepler and multitudes of various scientific minds. The ancients were not only observers but cast members also. They saw gods and magic and mystery.
It’s different but also the same. We both ponder on the world around us and use the same fingers to scratch our heads when stumped.
Otis Gardner’s column appears here weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.