Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Marketing/Marking the Seasons

"Well, they've done it again - here we go..." I muttered, perusing the aisles at one of the local chain stores. I'd come shortly after Christmas to check out the bargains for next year's holiday and indeed found them, but there was more. MUCH more - like rows and rows of items for Valentine's Day, St Patrick's Day, and even a few for Easter discreetly (?) squeezed in among the others. My senses were confronted with "seasonal decorations". It reminded me of the new school supplies hitting the shelves just as summer break began for the kiddos and the Halloween decorations following not long after. Really, for me it's become too, too much!

Made me think, though - is this how most of us follow the seasons anymore? Being accosted day after day, month after month, year-round by the not-so-subtle advertising of large conglomerate businesses? I hate to think so, but I do believe there's a grain of truth here. How do YOU first notice that spring is out there lurking in the not-too-distant future? Warmer temperatures? Swelling buds on the trees? The rotation of constellations, phases of the moon, height of the tides? Or is it the TV commercial reminding you that your Valentine deserves that special gift? How else are the seasons to be noticed and marked?

Most of us are aware we have a bit more hours of light each day, but have you noticed that the sun appears to also be moving further and further north in the sky? Have you observed the night sky recently to find the North Star (Polaris) and note the rotation and re-positioning of those constellations that surround it? How about the moon - are you aware of which phase it is in and how that changes month to month? Extreme high tides occur naturally when the sun’s and moon’s gravitational pulls reinforce one another. These high tides, sometimes called “king tides”, occur this year in January and February. When they happen to coincide with heavy rainfall, serious flooding can result. Were you aware of those tides, what causes them, and more importantly, were the children and/or grandchildren in your life?

Seasons affect us in many ways, some of which we may not even be aware of. Seasons change here on earth, not because of some holiday or event we celebrate or the colors we wear, but due to phenomenal forces and processes not completely within our understanding. In the time between our ancient ancestors first noticing the paths of orbs across the sky and today's incredible orbiting telescopes which capture images light years away, much has been learned about the universe. But much remains to be learned, if indeed it ever will be. One thing is clear: there is a rhyme and a reason to it all with all actions resulting in reactions in an ever-widening sphere of time and space. The mere fact that we don't understand it all does not mean it is not so.

T. Megeath (University of Toledo) and M. Robberto (STScI)

All this makes me feel very small, insignificant, and humble beyond belief. More insignificant, still, are those rows and rows of seasonal decorations...Just give me the sun, moon and stars.

And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth ." And it was so. God made two great lights - the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars... And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:14-16, 18

*For more fantastic photos and information
on the Hubble Space Telescope:

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