By Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm, courtesy of Capay Valley Farm Shop
Last Saturday was the Equinox - it happens twice a year, once as the days become shorter, once again as the days become longer. For us here in the northern hemisphere, we feel the approach of Autumn. On the other side of the earth, Summer is approaching.
Equinox always reminds me of visits that I made one winter to ruins of Mayan temples and palaces in Mexico where the architecture was a repository for ancient astronomical and agricultural knowledge. There are dozens of examples in Maya architecture, of structures that were oriented in such a way that seasonal cycles were dramatized. For example, the rising sun at Equinox, when viewed from the main causeway of a palace, fully illuminated the central door of an important temple. There were also precisely oriented windows that allowed Mayan astronomers and calendar keepers to monitor the sun on solstice and equinox days.
At the farm, we can see the impact of the longer nights on our crops. Even though the afternoons are still quite hot, there just aren't as many hours of the heat, so tomatoes ripen at a calmer pace and fall greens brighten up. Agriculture is subject to the same laws that govern the movement of celestial bodies - perhaps it's not unreasonable that the Maya searched the heavens to better understand the patterns of their lives. For us, the evidence of these changes is right there in our produce boxes!