The mornings are noticeably darker now when the alarm goes, and sure enough, looking at the sunrise times, it's getting later by two minutes every day. There is one gigantic benefit to this, and it's that I'm out for my walk by the time the sun is rising. How lucky have we been over the last few weeks with the blue skies and sunshine? A perfect start to autumn. The equinox occurs on 23rd September this year and in paganism it's known as Mabon or the second harvest. Sure enough there is plenty to harvest just now, and apart from pockets full of conkers, I feel somewhat ashamed that I haven't taken advantage of the brambles, elderberries and hawthorn berries that are currently weighing down bushes and trees.
Ohigan is a Buddhist festival celebrated at both the spring and autumn equinoxes, the times where day and night are the same length. The sun rises directly in the East and sets directly in the West and it is seen as a time when nature and the universe are in harmony. It's a time to be with your family and celebrate your ancestors that have passed on, which seems additionally appropriate this year. It celebrates the passage of seasons, as nature starts to wind down towards its winter sleep.
While nature is winding down, we don't seem to be, with a whole heap of upcoming events as part of our Get Outdoors South Lanarkshire project with the South Lanarkshire Countryside Rangers and funded through Smarter Choices, Smarter Places. Keep an eye on their facebook page for information. We're wanting to encourage people to spend time in their local greenspaces, particularly the newly designated Local Nature Reserves, and to that end there are a variety of walks and activities going on. I'm particularly excited about a quartet of walks in East Kilbride, starting from Glen Esk Pocket Park. For the first one we are off to explore the three great linns of Calderwood on Sunday 25th September. Booking is essential and you can find out more on our new booking page. Take the opportunity to discover new walks on your doorstep. My first discovery was the word linn, which I only knew from the Irish to mean a pool, as in Dubh Linn the translation of Dublin meaning black pool. In Scotland, the word is definitely more dramatic than a boring old pool, and I'm excited to head out and find the waterfalls. If I am feeling particularly ambitious I may try and plot the route on Go Jauntly as we go! Talking of which, their Autumn Winter Challenge started this week with the aim to walk 300km in the next 16 weeks. If you live in East Kilbride there is an even more urgent challenge ahead of you as Beat the Street EK launched on 14th September for six weeks. The game was cut short in Spring 2020 but now it's back, to encourage you to get out and about and active in the community. As an added bonus there are hundreds of pounds worth of One4all vouchers to be won by teams in the game - and contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be connected to a school to take part, community groups can play too, so sign up now. Cards and maps can be picked up from the distribution centres which you can find on the map here and there are even two beat boxes inside the EK shopping centre so that everyone can continue to play regardless of weather and conditions underfoot. Even though I don't live in EK, I've got myself a card and am looking forward to making the most of some active travel when I head to meetings there over the next few weeks.
Of course, nature is still pretty busy too, just as you think everything is starting to wind down, you suddenly notice a purple patch under the trees at the far side of the park. Of course! It's the autumn crocuses putting in an appearance out of nowhere. Enjoy the colours while they last, and happy equinox!