Happy Springfall Equinox

Today is Spring Equinox. Except it’s not. Not here, in the Southern Hemisphere, in the nation of Uruguay, where a fierce brief summer is abruptly coming to a close. In keeping with global warming, the weather here has been unusually wild, hot, and stormy these past few months, and today, cold rain pours down, like a curtain closing on the season of beaches and Carnaval. Fall has blown in, the days are shorter, we are headed into the cold.

A drawing by Uruguayan painter Joaquín Torres-García, reminding us that what we think of as geographically "up" or "down" is an invention.

My parents both grew up in Uruguay, and this was the pattern by which they measured time. But I have spent my entire life – until now – living in the Northern Hemisphere, in Europe and the U.S. I’ve visited Uruguay over the years, but never been here long enough to feel the seasons change around me. I can’t wrap around this inversion of annual rhythms I’ve known since since childhood. I stare at the calendar and dutifully repeat: April is in the fall, September in the spring. I want to believe it. I know it’s true for half the world. But it feels a bit like writing with my feet and walking with my hands. Or crossing a threshold into an alternate world, the kind usually found down rabbit holes or through psychedelic drugs.

My wife, children and I are in Uruguay for a year. We came for many reasons: to make a film, to write and do research, to steep linguistically, to engage with the culture, to grow, to connect. Above all, through our work and our acts and our quietest moments, to connect. Whether this is, for me, a homecoming or a venture into foreign wilds, I still can’t say.

A friend recently returned from Greenland and told me that, in Greenlandic, the word for “weather” is also the word for “consciousness.” What does this say about our ties to the natural world? Our psychic yoke to the seasons? The potency of our inner storms?

My heart is divided between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and perhaps it always will be. There are worse ways to live, worse destinies than stretching your heart over and over in an attempt to encompass everything you love, across the globe. Sometimes stretching your heart means breaking it. You love a place that treats you with unkindness. You love a place you can’t return to. You climb and fall. You call out and can’t tell whether anyone has heard. You feel your solitude, your utter You-ness, your precarious stance between worlds. But it can be a good force, too, this breaking of your heart. It can mold you back together in a new shape, one that’s unrelentingly genuine, a shape like no other, a shape that strives to embrace the world.

What an unrivaled gift, to belong, as we all do, to this mysterious planet. Today it is autumn. Today it is spring. Today there is a turning of the Earth.

I wish you a happy equinox and the most joyous fallspring or springfall you could hope for.

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4 Responses to Happy Springfall Equinox

  1. sass says:

    Beautiful! When my husband moved from his childhood home of the year round sunny california to the pacific northwest here in oregon, he had his first experiences of ‘seasons’. It was completely new to him, especially learning how to bear and then finally to enjoy the long rainy cold winters. I have always found each season as a time of renewal for my soul. Some are for fun, some are for renewal, some are for relaxing, some of for work. To me the seasons are a necessity for my well being (or in your words, my ‘psychic yoke’ to them). I am not sure at this point if I could live in a place where it was nearly one season for most of the year! Happy spring/fall/spring to you too!

  2. Carolina says:

    Thank you, sass – lovely to hear of your relationship to these turnings, too. They’re such a part of us, if we let them be. And I resonate with what you say about “renewal for my soul.”

  3. Serena says:

    I like Greenland: “A friend recently returned from Greenland and told me that, in Greenlandic, the word for “weather” is also the word for “consciousness.”” Weather and consciousness seem to go hand-in-hand and it’s interesting the questions you raise here about what seasons you’ve experienced during the months of April and Sept. since being in Uruguay compared to how you experienced them previously. That is quite an adjustment.

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