In the traditional Chinese calendar, a solar year is the time from the winter solstice to the next winter solstice. The solar year is divided into 24 solar terms, which correspond to intervals of fifteen degrees along the ecliptic. Two solar terms are associated with each of twelve climate terms. Jīngzhé is the 3rd of the solar term and comes in the climate term of Mǎo (卯) or Mid Spring. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 345° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 360°. More often, it refers to the day when the Sun is exactly at a celestial longitude of 345°. In the Gregorian calendar it usually begins around March 5 and ends around March 20th.
I love working with this calendar. The terminology is poetic, it reflects the natural world not the world of business, technology and mechanical scheduling. Each solar tern is divided again into 3 pentads which in Jīngzhé are are first Táo shǐ huá (桃始華), ‘The peaches begin to blossom’, second Cāng gēng míng (倉庚鳴), ‘Orioles sing clearly’ and thirdly Yīng huà wéi jiū (鷹化為鳩), ‘Eagles are transformed into doves’. Although beautiful, these phrases do not accurately describe the weather and climate phenomenon in most of China at all. This year I plan to be observant and see how closely they mirror the changing of the seasons where I live.
I look forward to signs of spring, even insects awakening. I’ve never had an aversion to bugs the way many people do. I find beetles like the fellow at left very interesting, although the Japanese beetles that like to turn the leaves of my roses into lace are not high on the popularity list. Even those however, only get hosed off the plants. There are rarely that many that they do irreversible harm. I never use pesticides. Never. Period. If some insect is reckless or unknowing enough to enter my house, it is doomed unless I scoop it up and rescue it by dropping it outside. This is the abode of predators as fierce as any faced by Schwartzenegger, but thankfully much better looking. The cats don’t get much chance to stalk prey, so the observance of even the most microscopic insect life is an occasion to pounce.
In the yard the no pesticide rule ensures that I let nature handle things. I never have mosquitoes to speak of, only mosquito eating birds. I always seem to attract one of my very favorite insects though and they are famous predators too. My day is made when I see one of these praying mantises. They are so dignified and fun to watch, and so diligent at their work, they beat a can of chemical spray in every way. I realize some find them a little scary but I honestly find them attractive. They seem to like leaving their egg cases in the rue plants and I have had the good fortune when the actual Jīngzhé comes, regardless of the calendar, to watch hundreds of tiny mantises swarm out like a green cloud of life and spread through my garden.
I also love dragonflies, my beautiful mosquito control. Each one eats hundreds of mosquitoes a day and I always seem to have several around, even without a pond or pool. They come in so many colors and wing patterns, it’s no wonder jewelers try to copy them. They don’t bite or sting and yet people seem to be afraid of them. Then again, I also get a lot of bees and wasps and I don’t mind those either. Bees are struggling, the poisons people use is killing them. All I can say is, those same people had better not come complaining to me when crops fail for lack of pollinators. As for that, the wasps I get are also pollinators. I see them in the goldenrod and thistles and sometimes in the wild honeysuckle. There are several kinds, most common are tiny blue black ones that look quite delicate. These are nothing like the garbage can swarming yellow jackets. I don’t have a garbage can so I never see those. Perhaps they reflect mother nature’s sense of justice. The refuse we clutter the planet with is choking the life out of it.
I prefer things that encourage life, even insect life. I never want to live to hear a spring that has no Jīngzhé in a world exiled from the nature. The sounds of crickets chirping, bees humming and cicadas trilling are the sounds of life renewed in spring. I prefer to use the old calendar that has marked the year for centuries and remains relevant in it’s poetic beauty and avoid marking the changing seasons with sale days and merchandise on store shelves months before it’s matching holiday. I look forward to Jīngzhé when insects awaken.