Clivias in the palm grove at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. Photo: Simone CottrellWHAT signals spring for you? Perhaps it is the sweet scent of jasmine, brassicas in the garden going to seed, wildflowers appearing in a nearby reserve, or simply the packing away of winter woolies. My column last week spoke of one of my spring markers – the squawking return of the channel-billed cuckoos.

The blog of an ecologist friend a few weeks ago spoke powerfully of the layers of seasonal change available to the observant naturalist (Visit cel.org419论坛/author/andrew/)

Out on his verandah as per usual before heading to work, “eyeballing the new day like a well-trained drone”, Andrew caught wind of the “sweet melodic ditty of the rose robin”.

Over the last 20 years of living in the Bellinger Valley, Andrew has stitched together the subtle nuances of the changing colours, sounds, sights, scents and weather movements; an “ancient tapestry of shifting energies; flowering, fruiting, mating, nesting, migration, emerging, hibernating, hunting, killing, mating, life and death”.

From that study, a much deeper pattern than our four-season model has emerged. Rather than random or coincidental, events such as the arrival of the macleay swallowtail butterfly at the same time as pademelons carry their first joeys after winter he has discovered to be “perfectly synchronised”.

The rose robin’s fluted call was for him the “magic bugler” of spring’s arrival, “summoning the wheel of valley life to ratchet forth one notch” – the start of a chain of events including the emergence of the diamond python hibernating above his son’s bedroom.

From Andrew’s observations, there are at least six distinct seasons in the valley, with spring and autumn actually made up of at least two seasonal shifts in each.

In our part of the world there are no distinct four seasons, no party of leaves released en masse to signal the turning of the page. There is just a movement back and forth across an invisible line, a warm breeze on cheeks followed by a cold snap, a brave rustle from the burrow and a scurry back within.

There is a universal marker, though. The equinox just gone by marks the day worldwide when light and dark are of equal parts. Spring equinox for us, autumn in the north. The northern hemisphere Celts celebrated Ostara (easter) on the spring equinox with the painting of eggs and sowing of seeds, symbolising new beginnings and the cycle of life starting over.

Last weekend at the Sacred Ecology retreat I facilitated, we shared a simple spring equinox ritual of planting a seed and saying what we would like to see grow in our lives over the coming year.

As the season tilts towards the sun, perhaps you might also like to consider what it is you would like to cultivate over the next seasonal cycle.