Spring Equinox

This post’s Featured Writer  is Roselle Angwin whose new poetry book is due out in April. Please click on the link to find out more and to read her wonderful poems.

Meanwhile, here in the Dartmoor Diary, March brings swayling… controlled fires lit to burn off the gorse and let new grass grow from beneath. So burned and black at first you can’t believe it will ever grow again. In the wind the fires often grow hot and huge, the flames bright against the sky. You gasp if you have to walk through the smoke. The Welsh call this harsh wind the wind from the feet of the dead and whatever it touches it fiercely grips hold of. It carried the smells of burn on different days from the recent swayling on Hameldown, Corndon Tor and Wind Tor when smoke billowed along the horizons like a series of wild-fires. Charred patches of moorland are difficult to distinguish from cloud shadows cast like dread across the high moors. But afterwards, Dartmoor ponies wander among the burned area and seem to get nourishment from the char, their muzzles and legs blackened.

March 20th is the Vernal Equinox, the night when night and day are equal in length, ushering in Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The first day of Spring however depends on where you live: the moment when the Sun crosses over the equator will occur at 5:14 a.m. GMT.  This translates to 10:14 p.m. PDT on March 19 for those on the West Coast of North America.

The two very prominent stars, one being yellowy-orange and the other white-ish, one above the other are Venus and Jupiter.  They were closing in on each other until March 13th after which they started inching apart. Orion, distinctive in his hunter’s belt, chases them across the sky and each night they dip down over the horizon, one behind the other, before midnight, never letting him catch up.

Also on the ground there are signs of spring…ants seething in their pine needle nests – so many it looks like a battle – how do they know what they’re doing?  and yet, I believe that they do know and it’s entirely constructive; woodpeckers rattling; small tadpoles swimming in shallow pools, so many of them the water rocks as my shadow passes over them; leaf buds thickening like bird song on hazel twigs; showers of catkins, swaying but never falling; wood sorrel leaves breaking through the leaf litter (try eating them, the taste of spring); dog’s mercury swaying in the breeze; wood anemones leaves along the paths… yet I spotted some early flowers growing on a log fallen across the river; primroses with their lime green faces; bluebell leaves spearing their way to the light through old leaves; celandines like yellow stars; rare coltsfoot in dry places reminding me of my childhood.


About Rebecca Gethin

Rebecca Gethin is a poet and a novelist. Cinnamon Press published her third collection, All the Time in the World in 2017. Another pamphlet is forthcoming with Three Drops Press. Her second novel, What the horses heard, was published by Cinnamon Press in May 2014. Her second poetry collection - A Handful of Water - was published by Cinnamon in 2013. Her first - River is the Plural of Rain - was published by Oversteps Books in 2009. Her novel Liar Dice won the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award in 2010 and was published in 2011. She lives on Dartmoor and writes occasional pieces about wildlife and nature. Her poems appear in a variety of poetry magazines and in several anthologies.
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2 Responses to Spring Equinox

  1. Elly says:

    It’s not long ago that you started your blog, Becky, but you’ve already got me hooked. These Dartmoor Diary posts of yours are like going along for a walk with you and your dogs – though some day, I would love to be there in person. Anyway…thanks for opening my eyes to the big and the small and everything in between. I must try to find out exactly what time the equinox happens for me tomorrow (here on Prince Edward Island).

    The swalings are fascinating. But it did make me think of how here on PEI, lowbush “wild” blueberry growers have traditionally burned their fields every second year – to control pests and also as a pruning technique which makes the clones spread outward by rhizomes. Every now and again the burns get out of control, so our Dept of Forestry keeps a sharp eye on things… or they try. Here’s a link that shows how it’s a bone of contention – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2011/03/11/pei-blueberry-burning-permits-584.html

    But when I found that story, I discovered a very cool new news story about a fox in a crows nest!!

    Oh I must google those “celandines”.

    I’m already a subscriber to Roselle’s blog (have been for for the last couple of months), and I’m pleased to learn more about her and read two more of her poems. Love the image of the “laughing woodpecker”. Thanks Roselle.


  2. This is a lovely evocation of spring, Becky. So many rich images/ideas – like the profusion of spring itself. Beautiful! Lindsay

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