Saturday, September 22, 2012

On This Equinox: Ambivalence

Americans are a curious sort.

Many seem to distrust or outright despise the very rich.

Many are more than suspicious of, or even, sadly, disdainful towards, the very poor.

One might think Americans intuitively know something about the common good, about the dangers of extremes and the benefits of moderation, despite the divisive rhetoric of our politicians.

One might even venture to think that Americans are natural Marxists, equalizers at heart.

Those are fightin' words, to be sure, so we shan't politicize any further our gardening thoughts. But gardening thoughts are dirty thoughts, and politics, increasingly so, is very dirty indeed. So we find, ahem, common ground betwixt them.

My brain meanders today, on this, our first day of autumn. I lurched from international law and state recognition to gardening; from sifting through white pages in search of answers, to packing rich black organic compost around the base of a newly planted white flowering rhododendron; from showering to dousing myself with mosquito spray.

Words, too, mingled. Equinox, equality, vernal, autumnal, equity, ex aequo et bono, equivalent, coeval, equivocal, vocal, vocation.

And I become aware of so much ambivalence in life on this day.

Equinox: from aequus, equal, + nox, or night.

Why does the Latin privilege the night over the day? For reasons of celestial and terminological harmony (solstice, or sun still / equinox, or equal night)?

Equity: the direct descendant of the Latin aequus, meaning equal, just, even.

Equivocal: also from aequus, but conjoined with vox, or voice, a derivative of vocare, meaning to call. In Latin, it is aequivocus, meaning of equal voice, though it has come to refer to that which is indeterminate or ambiguous. That which is equal, it seems, is indistinguishable. Hence the need to ratchet up the divisive, dirty, political rhetoric I suppose. As if facts weren't enough...well, perhaps if one party didn't disavow facts.... oh my. What a mess.

Vocation: from the Latin vocatus, past participle of vocare, "to call;" it has come to mean a calling, as in a spiritual one or, in its secular variant, a profession.

Today is an equivocal day here in northern Delaware: the warm breezes and lows 80s feel like summer; walk into the shade and you feel autumn's presence. Tomorrow will bring much cooler temperatures, we are told, and we wait. At least I wait.

And the colors of summer begin to mix with fiery autumn colors: some buds on the mums are about to burst, while Rose Mallow sails her triumphant ruby sails, and the greenery of her leaves begins to signal that life is about to change.
Ambivalence. Of both strengths. The warmth of summer and the coolness of autumn. That transition of Becoming once again.

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