Good morning and greetings, late September fans. Unfortunately, this week’s post won’t be quite as sentimental as last week, as my son has trotted off to college and now I get to focus all my attention on my 15-year-old teen angel. As the Greek poet Euripedes once tweeted, ” To a father growing old, nothing is dearer than a daughter.” But it believe it was Bill Cosby’s gardener who once said, “Daughters are like flowers, they fill the world with beauty, and sometimes attract pests.”
So much like the seasons, my mind has been going through them changes. On Saturday we went from summer to fall, as the autumn equinox took center stage. The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year when the prodigal sun crosses the celestial equator. What this means is the sun and my daughter are rising later, that the night is coming sooner as day and night are almost equal in length. When comedienne Totie Fields was asked about this she said, “I’ve been on a diet for two weeks and all I’ve lost is fourteen days.”
So with a big nod to Deborah Boyd at earthsky.org, let’s take a look at this harmonic convergence of astronomical delights. At this time of the year south of the equator, it’s spring as they prepare for Carnival in Rio and the new coca planting season. The equinox is caused by the Earth’s tilt on its axis and its relentless orbit around the sun. Astronaut Neil Arnstrong put my favorite planet in perspective when he said from space, “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small, like Paul Ryan.”
Back in the olden days, way before the time folks used maps, encyclopedias and pay phones, early man spent much more time outside because of slow internet access. Instead, they used the sky as a clock, calendar and TV Guide. When they looked to the sky, they could tell what time it was, what time of the year it was and what was coming up on Fox’s fall preview. They also checked out the shifting locations of the sunrise and sunset during the year, which culminated in one of the earliest photo blogs, www.sunrisefromthecave.com.
There are indications that our early ancestors built observatories and crude tanning salons to track the sun’s progress. In a somewhat out of the way location high up in the Andes mountains of Peru, the Incas built the city of Machu Picchu and a Holiday Inn Express, where an overnight stay comes with the “Express Start” breakfast bar. At this “Lost City of The Incas,” they set up the Intihuatana stone, a group of rolling stones that have been proven to be be a precise indicator of the date of the two equinoxes and first Grammy Awards.
This sacred site of Machu Picchu, much like the American Music Awards, was forgotten for centuries by the outside world. It was brought to international attention back in 1911 by Yale archeologist Hiram Bingham, while in search of a Peruvian take-out joint that had shrimp cioppino, grilled guinea pig and and piranha with sauteed vegetables on it’s menu.
By the way, Hiram Bingham initially thought that this place of incredible beauty was a sanctuary and day spa for female priests, known as the Virgins the Sun. According to early writings discovered under a fossilized chalupa, these well-tanned priests lived here, harmonized with the earth and sky and took Zumba fitness, salsa aerobics and Brazilian butt classes.
So why is it springtime in Caracas as fall takes center stage in New England? Well, that’s because Mother Earth doesn’t orbit upright, but instead is tilted on it axis, which is not to be confused with Santana’s second studio album, “Abraxas,” featuring “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman.” Because of this tilting action, the Northern and Southern hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light, warmth and atmospheric love. But since this planet of ours never stops moving around the sun, these day of equal sunlight and darkness will change quicker than Mitt Romney’s position on abortion, health care, gun control and the 47% of Americans who pay no income tax and chew sugarless gum.
So as the snow birds, butterflies and drug mules migrate towards the south, the days are getting shorter than my tolerance for losing one more unnecessary U.S. soldier’s life in Afghanistan. It’s reassuring to know that 20% of Americans killed in combat this year in Afghanistan have come at the hands of our supposed allies, the Afghans. With friends like this, who need the ZZ Top-loving Taliban?
So while we’re on the change of seasons subject, because of my love for everything sweet and sour, let’s take a look how our friends in Beijing view the autumn menu.
For the Chinese, the fall season and memories of my high school graduating class are associated with the color white. So is the sound of weeping along with the images of a white tiger and a black mamba. Autumn, much like my frequent visits to the dentist, is associated with courage, sadness and frequent suctioning.
Fall is also in line with the thought of the direction west, considered to be the direction of dreams, visions and Kobe Bryant and the Laker’s task of having to go through LeBron James and the Miami Heat to win another NBA championship.
So to celebrate the autumn equinox as the early Chinese philosophers and Panda Express sous chefs once did, you might stand facing west for a few moments and consider your dreams, visions and whether your path in life leads to fried rice or chow mein, both of which come with a choice of two entrees and and unfortunate cookie.
You can also light white candles to ease the darkness of the universe, arrange white flowers in a vase, or listen to the Beatles “White Album” till your eardrums bleed. And according to the bylaws of PF Changs, you could gently weep like a Red Sox or Raider fan. But for this season, we all must find the courage to face what’s ahead, or with to-go orders, the strength to call ahead.
For this week’s photo derby we are featuring some shots that are hot off the presses. The sky blew up Friday evening on the last night of summer, and I was fortunate enough to be at Stockton Avenue along West Cliff to take in the spectacular action. It was a great sign of things to come. I believe it was my tantra yoga teacher or Ann Landers who once said, “Sensual pleasures have the fleeing brilliance of a coment. A happy marriage has the tranquility of a lovely sunset.”
On to the late night. “Mitt Romney is trailing in the polls. After being accused of being too vague, Romney’s campaign team says they will start being more specific. When asked when, they said, ‘Soon-ish.’” –Conan O’Brien “Mitt Romney was here meeting with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He’s looking for a housekeeper for his place in La Jolla.” –Jimmy Kimmel
“Mitt Romney was on ‘Live With Kelly and Michael.’ At one point Mitt was asked what he wears to bed. He said as little as possible. It’s the same philosophy that Mitt has in regard to paying taxes.” –Jimmy Kimmel “On Saturday, Mitt Romney took some time off from campaigning to watch his grandson’s soccer game. Though it got awkward when one team pulled their goalie and Romney was like, ‘Look at that – another job lost under President Obama.’” –Jimmy Fallon
“All of these political strategists are trying to explain why Mitt Romney can’t seem to get his message out. I’m no strategist but it’s hard to talk with both a silver spoon and a foot in your mouth.” –Jay Leno “It’s Fall. Unless you’re Mitt Romney, and then it’s freefall.” –David Letterman “All over the world people are chanting, ‘Death to America.’ Except in China, where they’re chanting, ‘Not until we get our money back.’” –Jay Leno
So that’s my statement and I’m sticking to it. We’ll catch you, the 38-year-old former American league rookie-of-the-year and MVP, going 7 for 8 and stealing four bases in a doubleheader for the Yankees last week while trying to help Bronx Bombers make it to the postseason. Aloha, mahalo and later, Ichiro Suziki fans.