One photo a day until I meet Jonathan Harris

20th March

Where and when?

This photo should easily answer both of those questions, but there is a very important story it doesn't tell.

Exactly 4 hours before I took this picture, our planet passed the March equinox. That is to say, the earth was at the half way point between the longest and shortest days of the year. At that moment everyone, everywhere on earth was experiencing a day and night of roughly equal length.

When it actually happened (at 17:32 UTC) I was working in the garden. I tried to impress upon my compatriots the significance of this situation by wishing them all a "bon equinox" and shaking their hands. They mostly looked bemused and wondered why I was acting so strangely on an otherwise unremarkable Saturday afternoon.

Later when Sabine gave me a lift back into town, her curiosity about my behaviour got the better of her.

"But why do you attach so much significance to this event?" she asked. "Is it because you view earth as your religion and...".

"No, no, no," I cut her off quickly, "its not that at all". I didn't want her to think I was some kind of 'hippy' trying to get in touch with 'mother earth', and I balked as soon as I heard her say the word 'religion'. I didn't want to be associated with that either. Strangely though, as I began stammering an explanation I was surprised at the words coming out of my own mouth.

"We as little humans", I began, "like to think we are the masters of our domain.

"We have electric lights to see in the dark and petrol powered cars to move around quickly. We are even starting to see that together, our actions can influence something as big as the climate - no small feat for such little creatures.

"Despite all of this though, we are a long way from being able to control the length of the days. At the scale of the earth and sun, our electric lights, our automobiles and even our rocket ships are puny. It will be a very long time before we can significantly change the speed of the earth's rotation or break from our orbit with the sun. For many years to come, on this large scale at least, the earth is our master and we follow its program".

I had to stop. After wanting to avoid a religious or hippy connotation, it sounded like I was doing a very good job of exactly the opposite. I wondered for a second if I should I take everything back and instead try to explain it more pragmatically, try to paint it in a more secular light. But on reconsidering I found it difficult to describe in any other way. If anything, just as it would be foolish to rush past the first blooms of spring without stopping for a moment to appreciate them, I would hate to let this particular geometrical coincidence pass by without acknowledging it.

Sabine dropped me off and I walked for a little bit in order to think things off. Passing by the grand old church I saw the clock and wondered what time it would be for my family and friends back home - all the way on the opposite side of the planet. At Christmas and New Years, our world is split in two, with those in the north freezing cold and those in the south boiling hot. At equinox however, we all live for a short time like those in the middle - its something that everyone can share.

They might have been fast asleep, or just getting ready to start a new day, but no matter 'when' or 'where' they were right at that instant, I paused for just a moment in order to wish them a bon equinox.

Postscript: To honour this year's equinox I have written the following score (with a tip of the hat to Bill Drummond).

Post-postscript: I have never researched any previous "time-lapse sound" type works, but will do so now that this score has been published.