Sunday, March 22, 2009

Vernal Equinox

vernal: of or pertaining to spring, from the Latin vernalis (

vernal pools: Vernal pools are seasonally flooded depressions found on ancient soils with an impermeable layer such as a hardpan, claypan, or volcanic basalt. The impermeable layer allows the pools to retain water much longer then the surrounding uplands; nonetheless, the pools are shallow enough to dry up each season. Vernal pools often fill and empty several times during the rainy season. Only plants and animals that are adapted to this cycle of wetting and drying can survive in vernal pools over time. (

vernal equinox: The word “equinox” derives from the Latin words meaning “equal night” and refers to the time when the sun crosses the equator. At such times, day and night are everywhere of nearly equal length everywhere in the world. It is important to note that while the March equinox marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, it is the start of autumn in many parts of the southern hemisphere. (

To celebrate the coming of spring, we took a vernal equinox hike at some beautiful, vernal pools at Phoenix Park in Fair Oaks, CA. We saw geese flying, insects hopping on top of the pools, and beautiful flowers. We couldn't get close enough to the edge of the pools to see any fairy shrimp or frogs. We started sketching flowers in our botany books, but then it started to rain. We'll have to return and sketch some more!

We've been to vernal pools in Yolo County (near Davis, CA) and at the Santa Rosa Plateau (near Murrieta, CA) in the past. Each one has interesting flowers and wildlife. Here is a great website with lessons and information about vernal pools:

Short Video of our Vernal Equinox Hike

1 comment:

Jane said...

You have a beautiful family. Looks like it was a magical day! Enjoyed reading your blog (got lots of inspiration) and will stop by often.