Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Got change for a quarter?

Happy Independence Day! This is my second Independence Day in Honduras and means that two weeks have passed since my fifth solar event on the solstice on June 21. (Is there a term that encompasses both solstices and equinoxes, which seem to me to be two sides of the same coin? Maybe Quarter Day?.)

Of course, here at 14 degrees North latitude, there isn't nearly the kind of variation in daylight times as there is in Houston (29 degrees North), Pittsburgh (40) or certainly London (51). I arrived at maximum daylight hours back on the summer solstice in June 2006, and have four more left during my Peace Corps term: the autumnal equinox and winter solstice in 2007 and then the vernal equinox and summer solstice 2008, and I'll be spending the autumnal equinox 2008 in the U.S.

As we passed the celestial milestone back in December, I made a point to tell my students in my Educatodos English classes, since in mid- to late December we were working on the names of the months, and I thought it was a fun excursus to ask why the ninth month, September, shares the prefix in Spanish, for "seventh," and likewise with October, November and December. That took us to what it meant to have spring in more temperate latitudes, where after a cold winter, the world seems to start over, making March a logical place to start the year. (We just have two seasons in tropical Honduras, the rainy season (known as invierno, which I was learned as winter, and the dry season called verano, which translates as summer. It seems otoƱo (fall) and primavera (spring) are sort of unknown concepts here.

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