First Day of Spring – Stop and Smell the Roses

Friday, March 20, 2015 marks the vernal equinox also known as the first day of spring. This is an ideal time to stop and smell the roses, yes, even on a workday.

Pink Rose Bushes in Bloom

The idea for this post actually originated with my spouse. A few days ago, I posed the question, “If you were writing a post about the first day of spring, what advice would you give?” To which my spouse replied, “Stop and smell the roses.”

It seemed like an interesting idea to explore from an environmental angle, plus I wanted to learn about equinoxes and try to find out who originated the phrase about roses.

What is an Equinox?

The first day of spring is one of two times a year when the sun passes over the earth’s equator making day and night of equal length, or almost equal.

Equinox is the term used to describe this phenomenon, which derives from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night). Two more Latin words determine which equinox occurs when. Vernal equinox derives from the word ver (spring) and autumnal equinox from the word autumnus (autumn).

The vernal equinox occurs within a day or so of March 20 each year and the autumnal equinox around September 22.

Seasons vary depending on hemisphere meaning the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere is the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere. Sometimes the terms March equinox and September equinox are used to minimize confusion.

As far as an explanation as to why day and night are not exactly of equal length on the equinoxes, Wikipedia provides a far better explanation than I can.

Equinox Earth Image

What is the Origin of the Phrase “Stop and Smell the Roses?”

A cursory Internet search for the origin of the phrase “stop and smell the roses” turned up a few theories but no definitive answer.

Some sources suggest the phrase was adapted from a saying credited to professional golfer Walter Hagen: “You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

Stop and Smell the Roses is the title of a 1974 song by Mac Davis and a 1981 Ringo Starr album.

There is no “official” definition of “stop and smell the roses” however, relaxing, appreciating ones’ surroundings, and enjoying life’s simple pleasures like smelling roses are generally accepted meanings.

Stop and Smell the Roses 15 Minute Challenge

Slowing down to appreciate and enjoy life is a deceptively simple idea yet difficult to achieve.

In today’s world, we seem to be forever busy with longer to-do lists, packed schedules, and conflicting priorities. We eat lunch at our desks or run around doing errands instead of taking a break. After work, we pick up our kids from daycare, finish the errands we did not get to earlier, pick up or cook dinner, throw in a load of laundry, and fire up our computer to finish a work task that is due tomorrow morning. Sound familiar?

We are so used to being busy that if we find ourselves with a moment to relax we fall onto the couch exhausted, whip out our smart phone, or go in search of something to do.

European Honey Bee Extracting Nectar from Purple Flower and Collecting Pollen

I propose we break the busy pattern with a “stop and smell the roses” challenge on the first day of spring that we can all accomplish before, during, or after work.

Let’s each set aside 15 minutes sometime during the day or evening to slow down and create our own “stop and smell the roses” moment. No phones, tablets, or computers. Let’s go outside; sit, stand, walk, or lie down and enjoy the oak trees in a nearby park, the daisies planted around the office patio, or a potted geranium on our balcony. Let’s watch a bird flapping around in a birdbath, an ant trail marching along a sidewalk crack, or bees flitting from flower to flower.

The first two or three minutes are the hardest because we have to actually stop and relax then we are free to enjoy the moment.

Stopping and Smelling the Roses is a Good for the Environment

Here is the environmental twist I alluded to at the beginning of the post. I believe stopping and smelling the roses is good for the environment for several reasons.

  • By hitting the pause button, we refresh our spirit and perhaps broaden our perspective beyond the hamster wheel of our daily routines. Awareness is the first step on the path to change.
  • Enjoying the beauty and wonder of our fellow animal and plant beings reminds us that we are part of the environment, not separate from it. What we do to the environment we do to ourselves.
  • Appreciating the interconnectedness of nature may spur us to act, to change how we live, to live more gently on the planet we all call home. We protect what we love.

Redwood Trees in Redwood National Park, CA

Stop and smell the roses simply because they are beautiful and sweet smelling.

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